Thursday 30 March 2017

Inmates on temporary release to be tagged for the first time

Edel Kennedy

PRISONERS on temporary release will be tagged for the first time within weeks.

But the pilot -- which was originally meant to begin last month -- will not involve any sex offenders or others who could pose a risk to the public.

The Prison Service confirmed that the tendering process was complete and it would begin a pilot programme of tagging prisoners when the Justice Minister signed a commencement order.

Calls for closer monitoring of dangerous offenders after prison have escalated in recent weeks following the release of rapist Larry Murphy.

Murphy, who served 10-and-a-half years of a 15-year sentence for the rape, abduction and attempted murder of a Co Carlow businesswoman in 2000, refused to undergo treatment while in prison.

And an Irish Independent investigation last week found that at least 10 named high-risk rapists -- offenders jailed for more than eight years --are due for release by 2015.

A Prison Service spokesman said it was "actively considering" tagging a variety of offenders.

But those who are considered a risk to the public would not be involved in the trial phase. And it is unlikely to ever seek to tag those who are jailed for minor offences such as the non-payment of fines.



Control

"It was never envisaged that people on a very short sentence would be tagged and let out," he said.

"The purpose is to let offenders out and get used to living in the community while we still have control over them.

"This way we won't be waiting until the last day of their sentence and they're forced out. This way they will be eased out."

Twenty prisoners will be tagged in the initial phase, and the numbers will be increased depending on its success.

Long-serving killer Geoffrey Evans is expected to be one of the first tagged -- but he is in a coma and, therefore, not considered a risk to the public.

Evans and his accomplice John Shaw were convicted of the murder, rape and torture of two young women in Wicklow and Galway in 1975.

The arrests of the two Englishmen followed a massive garda investigation -- and they told officers that they had intended to murder a woman every week. They were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1978 and are among the longest-serving prisoners in the State.

Evans (67) has been in a coma since December 2008 when he suffered a stroke while undergoing heart surgery.

Six prison officers have operated a round-the-clock guard at his bedside for the past 16 months, costing €1.2m up until April this year.

Irish Independent

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