Victims of crime and the prisons
The prisons are managed by the Irish Prison Service.
Prisons range from high-security closed institutions to open prisons with minimum security.
Whether a prisoner is held in a high- or low-security prison will depend on the prisoner's profile. Factors such as the type of offence, length of sentence, degree of risk, etc., are taken into account.
If a prisoner is considered dangerous or poses a threat to you as a victim, he or she will be held in one of the secure closed prisons.
One of the main aims of the prison system is to rehabilitate offenders so that they do not offend again when they are released from prison.
The Prison Service provides work-training, counselling and treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. In addition, there are special sex offenders' treatment programmes, which force offenders to focus on the full effects of their crimes on victims.
Most offenders are entitled to a 25% reduction of their sentence if they maintain good behaviour while in prison. Sentence remission is taken into account by judges when passing sentence.
However, a prisoner serving a life sentence has no release date and can only be freed with the approval of the Minister for Justice and Equality.
Release from prison
Offenders are usually released from prison when they have finished their sentence or when they are approved for early or temporary release by the Minister for Justice and Equality.
Sex offenders released from prison must notify the Garda of their current and any future address.
Temporary release is usually granted on compassionate grounds such as the death or serious illness of a close relative. Prisoners coming to the end of long sentences are sometimes granted temporary release to help them reintegrate into the community.
When the Prison Service is deciding whether or not to grant temporary release to a prisoner, it will take into account the potential risk or danger to the public and to you as a victim.
The Parole Board advises the Minister of Justice and Equality about the administration of long-term prison sentences. Prisoners sentenced to 8 years or more but less than 14 years can have their cases reviewed by the Parole Board when they have served half of their sentence. Prisoners sentenced to 14 years or more, including life sentences, will have their case reviewed after 7 years in custody.
The Parole Board can only make recommendations. The final decision lies with the Minister for Justice and Equality.
The Prison Service will:
- Try to rehabilitate and reform all offenders sentenced to prison
- Provide enough prison spaces so that all offenders sentenced to imprisonment can serve out their sentences.
- When temporary release is being considered, take into account any potential risk to you as a victim and the contents of the victim impact statement.
- Make sure that no extra distress is caused to you by any action of the offender while he or she is in prison
If you are the victim of a serious sexual or violent offence and you have requested that you be told if the offender is being released, the Prison Service will notify the Gardai prior to his or her release.
How to apply
If you have any queries or complaints regarding the Prison Service or if you wish to request a notification of release, you should contact the Prisons Victim Liaison Officer.
Further information is available in the Prison Service Victims Charter (pdf).