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Nearly half of released prisoners reoffend within three years

Almost half of prisoners released from jail in Ireland reoffend within three years, figures indicate.

Recidivism is more common for men than women and is also more prevalent among younger offenders, according to the analysis published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The CSO’s latest study focuses on offending behaviour of those released from prison in 2009.

Of the 7,507 individuals released from the custody of the Irish Prison Service in that year, 3,563 (47.5%) reoffended within a three-year period.

Almost 80% of new offences occurred within 12 months of release.

The CSO cautioned that reoffending rates might be higher than the official figures, as the Garda’s Pulse computer system did not record all reported offences during the time-frame examined.

The overall rate is down on the 2008 cohort, which recorded a 51% recidivism rate.

In 2009, the reoffending rate among men was 48.2%, compared with 41.2% for women.

Overall, recidivism rates decreased with age.

While 54.4% of individuals aged under 21 reoffended, the rate fell to 27.2% for the 51-60 age category and 16.7% for those aged 61 and older.

The type of offence individuals were originally convicted for also influenced whether they reoffended.

The lowest rates recorded were for sexual offenders and fraudsters, while burglars and those guilty of public order offences were among the most likely to commit another crime.

The CSO also examined reoffending rates among those placed on probation or handed community service in 2009.

In those cases the recidivism rate was around 37%. In 2009, 3,854 people were placed on probation orders or community service orders and, of those, 1,436 reoffended within a three-year period.

As with jailed offenders, the rates varied across demographic groups. Recidivism was higher for males than females and for younger age groups.

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The type of probation supervision handed to criminals and their initial offence also influenced reoffending rates.

When compared with 2008, the overall recidivism rate for those on probation fell from 41% to 37.3%.

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