Thursday 18 July 2019

Almost 3pc of prisoner sentences are wrongly calculated

Caron McCaffrey: IPS director general admitted service faces claims
Caron McCaffrey: IPS director general admitted service faces claims

Seán McCárthaigh

Mistakes have been found in calculating the sentences to be served by almost 3pc of prisoners, following a review by the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

The findings of a Sentence Calculation Review Programme, commissioned by the IPS in 2018, have revealed errors were uncovered in the period of detention of 46 inmates.

The review, carried out by a retired prison governor between June and October last year, examined files on more than 1,600 prisoners across 11 prisons.

Periods to be served in custody had been incorrectly calculated in 46 out of 1,612 prisoner files - 2.8pc of the total of cases reviewed.

There are currently more than 4,015 prisoners in jail with a further 309 on temporary release.

The IPS has not stated whether the errors were mostly related to the early or late release of prisoners or the extent of the miscalculation of sentence periods.

However, an IPS spokesperson said that all the errors had been detected before the relevant inmates were due to be released from custody and their files had been amended to reflect their correct release date.

"No prisoner was let out in error," he added.

Earlier this year, the IPS director general, Caron McCaffrey, admitted that it was facing a significant number of claims relating to the unlawful detention of prisoners.

"It is important that we do not keep someone past his or her sentence expiration date," Ms McCaffrey said.

She claimed the issue of sentence calculation was "complicated and technical in nature".

The review also highlighted errors in the recording of periods when prisoners returned from being unlawfully at large.

Other problematic areas were recording when inmates moved between sentence and remand periods in jail, and incorrectly credited periods for time served.

The review also detected a further 81 errors in relation to prisoner records which had no impact on the calculation of sentences.

Irish Independent

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