Ireland

Sex offenders are least likely criminals to be convicted again after jail release

Major new study on Irish recidivism rates released by Central Statistics Office (CSO)

The CSO recidivism study shows 55 per cent of all prisoners released from jail in 2014 had re-offended within three years. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

The CSO recidivism study shows 55 per cent of all prisoners released from jail in 2014 had re-offended within three years. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Sex offenders are the least likely group of criminals to be convicted for a second time after their release from jail, a major new study on Irish recidivism rates has revealed.

Some 19 per cent of sex offenders who were released from jail in 2014 had re-offended within a three-year period, the lowest figure for any crime type.

The new study by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) also shows that one third of all offenders who avoid a prison sentence, and are instead fined by the courts, have committed more crimes within one year. Most commit the same type of crimes.

Thirty three per cent of people sentenced by way of fine had re-offended within a year and 40 per cent of those who are jailed for their crimes had reoffended within a year of being released from jail.

The CSO recidivism study shows 55 per cent of all prisoners released from jail in 2014 had re-offended within three years, though that is an improvement on previous trends.

Of those prisoners who were released from jail in 2011, for example, some 64 per cent had re-offended within three years.

The new study also reveals a number of other trends in rates of re-offending in the Republic, including:

* Younger prisoners are much more likely to re-offended, with 80 per cent of prisoners under the age of 21 years re-offending within three years of release compared with 30 per cent of prisoners over the age of 50 years.

* In 2014 the vast majority of prisoners, at 93 per cent, released from jails in the Republic were male.

* Female offenders released in 2014 were slightly more likely to re-offended within three years than males released from prison in the same year, with 58 per cent of female prisoners re-offending compared to 55 per cent of men.

* Of prisoners released in 2017, some 40 per cent had re-offended within one year, lower than the 46 per cent rate of re-offending within a year among those prisoners released from jail in 2011.

While sex offenders were the least likely to be convicted for new offences within three years of release from jail, those convicted of “damage of property or the environment” were most likely to have re-offended; some 79 per cent of that group re-offended in the three-year period after their release in 2014.

Rates of re-offending within three years of release from jail differed for those convicted of different crime types. For public order offences, the rate was 76 per cent; for burglary, 70 per cent; theft, 68 per cent; kidnapping and related offences, 67 per cent.

Meanwhile, for robbery, extortion and hijacking, the rate was 66 per cent; attempts and threats to murder or assault, 56 per cent; weapons and explosives offences, 48 per cent; road traffic offences, 48 per cent; dangerous and negligent acts, 46 per cent; fraud and related crimes, 43 per cent; drugs offences, 30 per cent; homicide offences 24 per cent; sex offences 19 per cent.

The study by the CSO has been carried out by using information from the Irish Prison Service and also from the Garda’s computerised database PULSE. Like all crime-related data, the study’s results have been published “under reservation” which means the CSO was still working with the Garda in a bid to improve the way the force records information about crimes.

The CSO said this publication released on Wednesday “introduces a shorter time period over which to measure re-offending (one-year rate) to aid with a more timely understanding of re-offending in Ireland”.

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