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Question

228. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons serving long-term prison sentences for murder; the number scheduled for review or release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12380/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that 348 persons are currently serving mandatory sentences of life imprisonment for murder in Irish prisons. The 348 persons are at varying stages of their life sentences as illustrated in the table.
The Parole Board was established in April 2001, their principal function is to advise in relation to the administration of long term prison sentences, including life imprisonment.  Where a life sentenced prisoner is considered suitable for release to return to live in the community, he/she remains under the supervision of the Probation Service for the remainder of their life and can be returned to custody if they breach supervision arrangements or any of their Temporary Release conditions.
Prisoners serving life imprisonment are eligible to have their case reviewed by the Parole Board for the first time after they have served 7 years of their life sentence.  Cases are reviewed several times thereafter, depending on progress made.  The Parole Board advises in relation to the prisoner’s behaviour in custody, the degree to which the prisoner has engaged with the various therapeutic services in the prison and how best to proceed with the future administration of the prisoner’s sentence. 
I have been informed by the Parole Board that 258 persons with life sentences for murder are currently engaging with them.  Of these, 7 have being recommended for Reviewable Temporary Release on successful completion of a phased temporary release programme.

Time served in years on 31 January 2019 Number of Prisoners
40   Years+ 1
35   to < 40 years 7
30   to < 35 Years 9
25   to < 30 Years 9
20   to < 25 Years 19
15   to < 20 Years 66
10   to < 15 Years 92
05   to < 10 Years 88
01   to < 5 Years 52
Less   than 1 Year 5
Total 348

The average length of sentence served in custody of those life sentence prisoners who were deemed suitable for release is 18.5 years.