How would freeing rapists and killers make us all safer, minister?

Minister Shatter, have you taken leave of your senses?

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard of your hare-brained and dangerous plan to free on licence approximately a quarter of the prison population, almost 1,200 prisoners, over the next three years.

Under this outrageous scheme, inappropriately titled The Community Return Programme, not only prisoners who were jailed for low-level crime such as those who failed to pay their TV licence, civil debt defaulters and those convicted of road traffic offences, but hardened, dangerous criminals would be freed. This latter category would include people sentenced for up to eight years for crimes such as manslaughter, rape, armed robberies.

Prison bosses who are backing this daft policy have added insult to the hapless victims of these thugs by absurdly claiming that the early release of 1,200 prisoners will lead to "increased public safety".

What parallel universe does the Minister and his minions inhabit? They are surely living in cloud cuckoo land.

Is it any wonder that victims' groups such as Advic are alarmed, outraged and disgusted by the prospect of violent criminals being released back into the community to wreak havoc and mayhem.

The timing of this ill-conceived, ill-considered, dangerous and unworkable plan could not be more inappropriate.

Only this week, crime statistics released by the Central Statistics Office show a dramatic rise in serious crimes such as rape, firearms offences, kidnapping and robbery.

But the Minister blandly tells us not to worry "that only prisoners that pose no risk and have good behaviour will be let out".

Tell that to the hundreds of victims of the murderers, rapists and the thugs who committed these heinous crimes when on bail as posing no risk to the public. This scandalous state of affairs is still one of the great anomalies in our judicial system.

This ludicrous scheme will only add to the imbalance and injustice of the criminal system in this country.

Under this scheme we could have violent criminals like the Dundon brothers, who've been recently convicted for threats to kill, let out.


We could have Alan and Wayne Bradley, who have been convicted for conspiracy to commit armed robbery let out, along with the likes of Martin McDermott, who killed Garda McLoughlin with a vehicle, and whom authorities saw fit to transfer to an open prison, from which he quickly absconded.

Not to mention Claire Nolan who killed an elderly man with her car.

That list surely illustrates the utter lunacy of the minister's policy.

In truth, this scheme is motivated by one consideration: to save money.

You have, incredibly, described your plans as a win-win situation.

The only winners in this are the thugs and the villains who will give the two fingers to the law. The new slogan will be you can do the crime -- and do no time.