More than half of prisoners released in 2014 re-offend within 3 years

More than half of prisoners released from custody in 2014 went on to re-offend within three years, with young people most likely to do so.
More than half of prisoners released in 2014 re-offend within 3 years

55% of men and 58% of women released from prison in 2014 re-offended within three years, new data from the CSO shows. File Picture.

More than half of those released in 2014 re-offended within 3 years

More than half of prisoners released from custody in 2014 went on to re-offend within three years, with young people most likely to do so.

Some four in five of released prisoners under 21 re-offended within three years of being released six years ago, CSO figures show.

Despite overall high rates of recidivism — the term used to describe tendency towards re-offending — the numbers were down from 2011, when 64% of prisoners released in that year re-offended within three years.

Re-offending was most prominent in public order offences, theft, and criminal damage.

Those previously convicted of robbery, kidnapping, and assaults also tended to be at high risk of re-offending, compared to other crimes, such as sexual and drug-related crimes.

Just under 30% of prisoners over 50 who were released from custody in 2014 re-offended within three years, the CSO said.

In 2014, 58% of women re-offended, compared to 55% of men, even though the vast majority of released prisoners were male (93%), the statistics body added.

Some 40% of prisoners released in 2017 re-offended within a year, compared to 46% of prisoners released in 2011 who re-offended within a year.

CSO statistician Felix Coleman said prison re-offending estimates are calculated using data provided by the Irish Prisons Service and An Garda Síochána’s Pulse reporting system.

“This publication introduces greater clarity in analysis of prisoner re-offending in Ireland by providing separate data on re-offending rates for prisoners released from custody, and for those who receive what is known as a ‘fine sentence’, or persons who receive a fine following a court appearance, and who may serve a custodial sentence if the fine is not paid,” Mr Coleman said.

Re-offending rates are falling over time whether one looks at three-year or one-year windows for re-offending following release from custody, Mr Coleman said.

“A little more than 40% of prisoners released in 2017 re-offended within one year of release, compared to just over 46% of prisoners released in 2011 who re-offended within one year of release.”

The figures were produced using a combination of An Garda Síochána and prison records, since there is no direct link between the two systems, the CSO said.

A statistical matching protocol was devised by the CSO to match prison and Garda records.

“Due to the absence of a unique identifier in the Irish criminal justice system, the matching process involves the comparison of individual records.

“In the region of 60% of all matches are matched automatically. That is, the name, address and date of birth details for the subject in the prison dataset corresponds exactly with those details in the Garda Pulse dataset,” the CSO said.

Due to data quality issues and limitations on the reliability of some information provided to law enforcement authorities, the remaining 40% of matches require manual examination, it added.

A certain level of subjectivity is inevitable in the absence of a unique identifier, according to the CSO.

It said comparing re-offending rates in Ireland to other countries is extremely difficult because the definitions used in re-offending studies are not standardised internationally, with some classifying convictions and others counting arrests.

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