FOUR of five jailed burglars commit crime again within three years of being released from prison.
Burglars top the table of recidivist offenders in a study compiled by the Irish Prison Service and the Central Statistics Office.
The results of the survey, which focused on a total of 7,701 prisoners, were released yesterday.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the study concentrated on recidivism where the new offence did not necessarily lead to a jail sentence and gave a clearer picture of the offending behaviour of ex-prisoners.
The study showed that 4,795 offenders, or almost two out of three, were involved in crime again in less than three years with 3,201 of those ending up in trouble with the law within six months of their official release from custody.
The rate of recidivism rose from 42pc within six months, to 50pc by the end of the first year, 55pc after 18 months, 58pc up to two years and 62pc within three years.
Male offenders represented 92pc of those studied and had a repeat offending rate of 63pc while 57pc of the female prisoners were recidivists.
The recidivism rates overall decreased with age with the worst repeat offenders less than 21 years old. More than 40pc of the population in the study were aged 40 years or less while over a quarter were in the 21 to 25 age group.
Apart from burglars, the main category of repeat offenders included those convicted of theft, damage to property, public order, road traffic, and robbery, extortion and hijacking related crimes.
Mr Shatter said the study was an important first step in providing a comprehensive analysis of the rate of recidivism among ex-prisoners. It would inform policy on the management of offenders, and help form new strategies aimed at reducing repeat offending.
He said similar needs and risks existed for many of those locked up behind bars, including lack of employment, abuse of alcohol and drugs, anti-social attitude, emotional and personal difficulties, poor educational achievement, family problems and lack of housing or accommodation.
"If we are to really succeed in reconnecting offenders back to their communities and assist offenders in a meaningful way during the critical months after their release, then we must devise a model involving state, community and voluntary agencies working in a partnership to bring about real changes in their lives," the minister added.