Irish Penal Reform Trust

Prison recidivism 2016 and 2019 cohorts

21st June 2022

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published statistics on recidivism (reoffending) by those released from prison in 2015 and 2019. The prison recidivism rate is measured as a percentage of people who were convicted of an offence that was recorded within one or three years (depending on the measurement) from their original release from prison.

Figures on the rates of reoffending within three years of release (2016 cohort) and within one year of release (2019 cohort) find that almost 62.3% of people released from prison in 2016 re-offended within three years of their release. This is a slight increase on the previous year, which stood at 61.7%. The data indicates that 44.6% of people released from prison in 2019 reoffended in the year following their release. This is a decrease of almost 3 percentage points compared to 2018 (47.5%).

Overall, 46.1% of individuals issued with fine sentences during 2019 re-offended within a year of receiving the order. This was an increase of three percentage points on the same estimate for 2018. The publication, for the first time, also presents statistics displaying the geographical breakdown of prison re-offending in Ireland.

The highest reoffending rates for individuals released from custodial sentences in 2016 continue to be those who were originally serving sentences for Public Order offences, Damage to Property and the Environment (79.7%) and Burglary (76.8). Individuals released from custody in 2016 were most likely to re-offend in Theft (20%) or Public order related offences (19.6%).

In 2016, over eight out of ten (82.8%) individuals under the age of 21 re-offended within three years of being released. The three-year re-offending rate for over 50’s was under three out of ten (29.8%). 

The data indicate that individuals released in 2019 from custodial sentences lasting between three and six months continued to have the highest likelihood of re-offending within one year of being released from prison (58%). This underscores, again, that short sentences are not an effective response to less serious crime. IPRT welcomes research being commissioned by the Department of Justice exploring the use of short custodial sentences and Community Service Orders, which will inform the review of the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011.

The statistics show that women were more likely to re-offend with 70% of women reoffending within 3 years of release compared to 62% of men.  IPRT welcomes the comments made by the Minister for Justice following the launch of these statistics, who stated that the “new penal policy review recognises the particular needs of women who offend and will look at how best to address them”. We look forward to the publication of the review.
 

Read more on the CSO website here.

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