137 people have been given temporary release from prison this Christmas.
This represents about 4% of the total prison population and is a drop in the numbers granted a release in the last two years.
Prisoners can apply for temporary release for up to a week, under legislation.
The Department of Justice said many of the people allowed out of prison this Christmas are close to the end of their sentence. In the main, compassionate and humane considerations are taken into account in deciding on who gets out of jail and for how long.
However, there is also weight given to the nature and gravity of the offence, length of sentence served to date, prior record on temporary release, behaviour while in custody and previous criminal history.
The Department said the overriding concern when considering the applications is the safety of the public.
The periods of release vary from one to seven nights and all are subject to stringent conditions. Anyone in breach can be arrested and returned to prison immediately.