Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Dara Calleary has said it is crucial that extra resources are provided to the probation service and the prison service to ensure the safe implementation of a new early prisoner release policy.
Deputy Calleary has welcomed the publication of the Irish Prison Service three-year Strategic Plan, but has expressed concern about a lack of detail from Minister Shatter.
“Protecting public safety must be the absolute priority when considering the early release of prisoners,” said Deputy Calleary. “While I recognise the need to think outside the box when it comes to sentencing and reforming an overburdened prison system, there are enormous risks attached to releasing convicted criminals en masse without a fully resourced probation service and community policing.
“So far the Justice Minister Alan Shatter has failed to outline any plan for extra resources to ensure that the probation service is equipped to keep track of all prisoners who are released early on probation. He has also failed to outline any plans to ensure that the victims of serious crime are consulted before their perpetrators are released. The welfare of victims and their families must be at the heart of this strategy, particularly when it comes to releasing criminals convicted of murder, manslaughter and sexual assault.
“At a time when the Justice Minister is pursuing a policy of cutting resources for community policing, shutting down garda stations whilst downgrading many more and cutting the budget of the community alert scheme, there are many communities across the country feeling particularly isolated and vulnerable. They need absolute assurances from Minister Shatter that their safety will not be put at further risk by the early prisoner release policy. The Minister must outline a comprehensive plan detailing the extra resources that will be provided and the procedures to consult victims.
“Fianna Fáil will be publishing a comprehensive plan on penal reform in the coming months. In that context, I welcome the policies contained in this plan to end the practise of slopping out in prisons, to remove 16 and 17 year olds from St Patrick’s Institution and to introduce drug free units to prisons,” said Deputy Calleary.