Justice Minister Alan Shatter said today that a scheme which will see a third of Ireland's prison population granted temporary release will be operated "with great care".
Ex-prisoners will have to complete community service under the terms of the programme, which will see up to 400 people released every year for the next three years.
Men and women serving sentences of between one and eight years will be eligible for the scheme.
Minister Shatter said that candidates will be vetted by the Prison Service.
"That assessment is very carefully done and of course it's very important that we ensure that members of the community aren't put at risk and as I said, so far, the pilot scheme that has operated has worked well," he said.
"This scheme will be operated with great care. It's only a small portion of what's happening under the strategic plan."