Attempted murderers, kidnappers, and drug offenders are among the 32 prisoners who have escaped from jails here and are still on the run.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that as of September 22, Irish Prison Service records show that, of the 419 persons who absconded during the last five years, 32 remain at large.
Figures obtained from the Irish Prison Service show among those who are on the run are four prisoners who were serving sentences for drug offences, three who were convicted of attempts/threats to murder, and two who were in prison for kidnapping and related offences.
The full breakdown of crimes committed by the 32 prisoners on the run shows:
- Three were jailed for attempts/threat to murder;
- Two were sentenced for dangerous negligent acts;
- Two were doing time for kidnapping and related offences;
- One was sent down for robbery, extortion, and hijacking offences;
- Four were sentenced for controlled drug offences;
- One was jailed for weapons and explosives offences;
- Two were convicted for damage to property and the environment;
- One was sentenced for road and traffic offences;
- One was convicted for offences regarding organised crime;
- Three were put behind bars for burglary and related offences;
- Ten were jailed for theft and related offences;
- Two were convicted for fraud, deception, and related offences.
The rate at which prisoners escaped in the last five years has slowed considerably — in 2009 there were 133 absconders, while last year there were just 18 and there have been just seven so far this year.
“Gardaí are informed when prisoners abscond and they have the power to detain, arrest, and return such persons to prison,” said Ms Fitzgerald. “Experience has shown that the vast majority of offenders who abscond return voluntarily or are returned to custody to complete their sentences within a short time frame.”
Ms Fitzgerald said that measures are being taken to recapture prisoners.
“In October 2012, the director general of the Irish Prison Service established a project team to examine how the Irish Prison Service might reduce the number of prisoners who are unlaw-fully at large from custody.
“The project team has worked closely with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Social Protection and its work has led to the re-committal of a number of prisoners who had absconded from custody. This project is ongoing.”
The Prison Service has previously pointed to a spike in escapes during years in which there were significant increases in prison intake, leading to overcrowding and a resultant increase in the number of prisoners being sent to open centres — from where the majority of prisoners abscond.
Meanwhile, the minister has also given a breakdown of the offences committed by the 3,219 prisoners in custody as of August 31.
“Theft and related offences” accounted for the largest number of prisoners (584), followed by “controlled drug offences” (530).
Violent crimes accounted for a large percentage of the prisoners. On August 31, there were 428 prisoners being detained for homicide offences and 424 for “attempts/threat to murder, assaults and related offences”.
There was a further 361 inmates serving time for sexual offences while 27 people were in custody for road and traffic crimes.
Meanwhile, figures show a therapeutic programme for convicted sex offenders has cost €720,000 to run since it was introduced in 2009 — but only a fraction (164) of those jailed for sex offences have availed of the voluntary programme.
The Building Better Lives programme is provided at Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin.
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