17 prisoners sentenced to life were recommended for parole in 2019.
The Justice Minister agreed with the recommendations of the latest report from the Parole Board which was published today.
It found that the average time served in custody by a life sentence prisoner released in 2019 was 20 years.
71 prisoners were referred to the parole board for review last year, with the majority of those serving time for murder, followed by sex offences, and manslaughter.
The Parole Board’s total active caseload at the beginning of 2019 was the highest in 5 years. The average time served in custody by a life sentence prisoner released in 2019 was approximately 20 years.
The principal function of the board is to advise the Minister for Justice in relation to the administration of long-term prison sentences.
The Board, by way of recommendation to the Minister, advises of the prisoner’s progress to date, the degree to which the prisoner has engaged with the various therapeutic services and how best to proceed with the future administration of the sentence.
The final decision regarding the recommendations of the Parole Board lies with the Minister, who can accept them in their entirety, in part, or reject them.
Speaking about the latest report, Minister McEntee said: “I want to thank the members of the Parole Board for the significant contribution they make to the operation of the Criminal Justice system.
“The Board undertake challenging work and make considered recommendations, taking account of a range of highly sensitive and complex matters.
“I met with the Chairman of the Parole Board, Mr John Costello towards the end of September, and we had a wide-ranging, positive discussion on the work of the Board.”
In 2019 the board convened on 11 occasions reviewing 117 cases. The caseload comprised of 32 first reviews and 85 prisoners who were reviewed for a second or subsequent occasion.
In terms of implementing the Parole Act 2019, Minister McEntee said the new statutory Parole Board will considerably improve the system as it currently operates. The Minister said,
“I am fully committed to establishing the new Parole Board as soon as possible. This is an important Programme for Government commitment and is something I have identified as a priority action for my Department”.
“The move from the current model to the model set out in the 2019 Act is complex and a significant amount of planning has been required.”