Figures provided by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald show just 50 of the 104 offenders due for release next year have undergone a treatment programme.
In a written Dáil reply to Deputy Denis Naughten, Ms Fitzgerald said: “These figures do not include those offenders who are involved with the probation service and other services in terms of treatment and risk management and resettlement processes.”
Mr Naughten said:
“This lack of engagement or availability of treatment shows that when these people are released from prison they need to be properly and closely monitored.”
Currently, the Irish Prison Service operates one dedicated treatment programme for sex offenders. Bulding Better Lives at Arbour Hill works with 24 sex offenders on an annual basis. The minister said it has plans to extend the programme to the Midlands Prison.
Ms Fitzgerald has previously confirmed to Mr Naughten that of the 136 sex offenders to be released this year, only 22 will have completed the Bulding Better Lives programme which costs €96,000 to operate on an annual basis.
Ms Fitzgerald said the extension of the programme to the Midlands “will allow for enhanced screening processes with this population, and the establishment of components of the Building Better Lives Programme in Midlands Prison”.
However, Mr Naughten claimed the lack of access to treatment while in prison is compounded by the fact gardaí are trying to monitor these offenders post-release with their hands tied behind their backs. “The current law governing the conditions for registration, the Sex Offenders Act 2001, is not fit for purpose and needs to be urgently reformed to ensure more effective management of sex offenders.
“The failure to close off dangerous loopholes in the monitoring of high-risk sex offenders leaves our system open for abuse and means that anyone who wants to avoid Garda attention can easily do so and still comply with the conditions of the so-called sex offenders register.”