FATHER Peter McVerry, the priest who works in drug-affected communities in Dublin, has blamed a lack of support for prisoners when they are released for re-offending when they're back on the streets.
He has told the Irish Independent he is "horrified and very angry" at a system that he says sees some prisoners released into homelessness and leads them back to drugs and crime.
He was responding to new Central Statistics Office figures that show that more than half of prisoners released by the State in 2008 re-offended.
The statistics show that more than two-thirds of the crimes committed relate to public order offences, drugs and theft.
And, of the 5,489 prisoners released that year, 51pc or 2,802 re-offended within three years, with recidivism rates more prevalent among male prisoners.
Fr McVerry -- who runs a homeless charity in Dublin's North Inner City -- said the recidivism rate was "a real indictment on a system that releases prisoners back into nothingness and then we're surprised that they re-offend".
He said rehabilitation programmes in prisons were of "secondary importance" when it came to prisoners reoffending, adding: "Whether a person will relapse into crime or not depends far more on what happens to them when they're released."
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that although there was a reduction in the rate of recidivism the rate still remained too high.
Meanwhile, a Prison Service spokesman listed a number of schemes aimed at helping inmates upon their release, including education and training in prisons, employment placement programmes and a pilot homeless service in Dublin's Cloverhill prison run by Focus Ireland which supports remand prisoners in accessing services and accommodation.