Convicted criminals have been gifted more than €1m in ‘bus money’ to cover the cost of transport following their release from jail since 2009, new figures have revealed.
Prisoners are paid a daily cash allowance by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) while serving time behind bars, but may also receive bus money at the end of their custodial sentence.
A total of €1,040,431 was spent by the IPS on transport-related costs for prisoners upon their release between 2009 and 2015, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Last year alone, transport for ex-prisoners cost the IPS €180,849 across the State’s 14 places of detention.
The highest amount sanctioned by prison governors for this purpose since 2009 related to Limerick Prison, where €151,538 was paid out for taxis, trains and buses over the seven-year period.
Prisoners released from Cork Prison, which has an operational capacity of 210, were given a total of €140,913 in bus money during the same period, while €135,178 was provided to prisoners discharged from Midlands Prison in Portlaoise.
The next-highest bill for released prisoners’ transport was at Shelton Abbey, which is an open prison in Co Wicklow with an operational capacity of 115. A total of €123,302 was paid out for this purpose since 2009.
Another open, low-security facility at Loughan House in Co Cavan was responsible for a bill of €113,177 for post-release transport costs, according to the records released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Among the lowest costs incurred for this purpose was €891 at Arbour Hill, which is centrally located in Dublin; and €5,711 at Cloverhill Prison in Clondalkin, Dublin 22.
The next-lowest was €15,424 at Portlaoise Prison.
The IPS has previously stated that the provision of expenses for transport costs to prisoners upon their release was at the discretion of the governor at each institution and was administered on the basis of individual needs.
Money for subsistence and other costs is not dispensed by the IPS but a process is in place by which prisoners can liaise with a Community Welfare Officer regarding entitlements prior to their release, the IPS said.
Prisoners also collect a daily cash allowance while in custody, which can be used to purchase discretionary items from prison tuck shops or saved and made available to prisoners upon their release.
Almost €22m was provided to prisoners in this form between 2009 and 2015.
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