The needs of those leaving prison in Ireland vary considerably. If you have served a short sentence, you may be able to resume your pre-prison life without any great difficulty. If you have served a long sentence however, you may need considerable help to re-integrate into society. Your crime and your time in prison may mean that you have lost your job. Family relationships may be damaged or changed and you may have to start a new life. You may also be subject to various restrictions due to your criminal background. This document provides an overview of the services and supports available in Ireland to help you.
Both before you leave prison and following your release you may be able to get advice from the Probation Service. The service funds a range of community based projects which may be able to assist you return to education, training or employment.
Your first requirement after leaving prison may be finding somewhere to live. You may be able to return to your family home or you may need to look for new housing options. If you already have a home, you may get help with paying the mortgage. If you live in rented accommodation you may get Rent Supplement. There are various services available for people who are homeless, for example you may apply for local authority housing.
If you are under 18 years, you should register with the social worker in your Local Health Office.
If you have been convicted of certain sex offences you may be subject to restrictions after you leave prison. For example, you may be required to provide information about where you are living and where you intend to travel. This is generally known as being on the sex offenders register. You may also have to tell certain prospective employers that you are a sex offender.
If you are unemployed, you may get help in finding a job from the Department of Social Protection. You may need to get a Personal Public Service Number if you do not already have one. Education and Training Boards provide training services.
You may qualify for a social welfare payment if you are unemployed or unable to work. You should go to your local social welfare office for further information.
Social welfare payments that may be available to you include Jobseeker's Allowance (formerly Unemployment Assistance), Disability Allowance or Supplementary Welfare Allowance. The Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme may also help you with certain once off or urgent costs - for example, if you need help to get furniture.
Depending on the number of social insurance contributions you have and the length of time you spent in prison, you may qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit (formerly Unemployment Benefit) or Illness Benefit (formerly Disability Benefit).
If you have problems managing your money, you should contact the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).
Depending on your income and circumstances following release, you may be eligible for either a medical card or a GP visit card. Application forms for a medical card or GP Visit Card are available online or from your Local Health Office. Staff in your nearest health centre or Local Health Office can help you fill out the forms and answer any other questions.
Unless you have a medical card or GP Visit card, visits to your GP are not free. People with certain long-term illnesses are entitled to prescribed drugs and medicines for that illness free of charge. This is part of the Drugs Payment Scheme.
People suffering from certain long-term illnesses are entitled to get the drugs and medicines for the treatment of that illness free of charge. This is called the Long-Term Illness Scheme.
You may wish to avail of various educational opportunities. You should contact your local Education and Training Board to find out what classes are available locally or contact specific educational institutions for information on adult education.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.