Written answers

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Department of Justice and Equality

Prisoner Rehabilitation Programmes

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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156. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the current status of the Mountjoy Prison community works party and in view of the benefits for participants and local communities, who benefit from the work, whether he will he ensure that it is brought back into regular use. [4686/14]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Mountjoy Prison Work Party assisted in over twenty community based building projects since it started in 1978. Subject to supervision by prison officers from the Work and Training Service of the prison, at any one time, up to six or seven prisoners were involved in providing the labour input to a range of projects. The officer in charge of the work party retired in 2009 and due to the restrictions on recruitment and promotion in recent years it has not been possible to allocate staff to this activity. Community and charitable initiatives continue in Mountjoy and indeed in other prisons. These activities include fund raising and the provision of a wide range of products for charitable organisations. Beneficiaries include Barnardos, Aware, Barretstown Gang Camp, CARI, Crumlin Children's Hospital, St. Joseph's Centre for the Visually Impaired and HOPE.

In relation to other initiatives which benefit communities the Irish Prison Service in conjunction with the Probation Service, has commenced the roll out of the Community Return Programme, an incentivised scheme for earned temporary release under which offenders who pose no threat to the community are offered early temporary release in return for supervised community service.

790 prisoners have taken part since October 2011 and 554 have completed the programme.

The Community Return Programme has been a really positive development, and as well as allowing prisoners to complete their sentence by way of performing a service to the community, has significantly helped these prisoners to successfully resettle in their communities.

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