Dáil Éireann - Volume 459 - 14 December, 1995

Written Answers. - Remission Rule.

[1827] 39. Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Justice if she will consider eliminating the 25 per cent remission rule where it applies to persons sentenced for violent sexual offences and who are deemed to still present a threat to society on their release; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18940/95]

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): The current position is that all prisoners are regarded as entitled to 25 per cent remission of sentence for good conduct. Remission may be forfeited by the Governor, visiting committee or Minister for Justice for a breach of prison discipline. The grant of remission and the threat of losing it for misbehaviour encourages offenders to co-operate with prison management in maintaining order and control. I am, therefore, satisfied that, for sound management reasons, remission should continue to be granted as heretofore.

I am not convinced that a change in the standard remission rate in respect of a single offence category, would really advance the aim of protecting society from offenders in that category. The courts, in determining the sentence to be imposed in individual cases, are aware of the fact that a standard 25 per cent remission rate applies as a matter of entitlement for good behaviour. The existence of standard remission does not mean, therefore, that the offender is released earlier than the judge thinks appropriate, because the standard remission rate is already “factored into” the sentence imposed — what it means, in practice, is that the offender who misbehaves while in custody may serve a longer period in custody than would have applied if he had been of good behaviour.