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Former probationers’ employment ‘more unstable’
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01 Nov 2023 / employment Print

Former probationers’ employment ‘more unstable’

Official figures show that people who were on probation in the justice system, or who were former prisoners, earned almost 20% less than the median weekly earnings of all employees in 2021.

The figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) also show, however, that women who had received a probation order were earning an average of €177 a week less than men who had also served probation.

Overall, the weekly earnings of former probationers (€509) or former prisoners (€516) released in 2018 was just over four-fifths that of the total population of employees (€620) in 2021.

This is a smaller gap than the CSO recorded in its last piece of research late last year.

Re-offenders earn less

The figures also show that re-offenders consistently earned less than those who did not re-offend. In 2019, a year after receiving probation, re-offenders earned €405 per week, compared with €457 for non-re-offenders.

The CSO finds that the level of employment among former probationers or former prisoners rose broadly in line with that of the general population (14%) between 2019 and 2023.

It adds, however, that former probationers experienced more unstable employment and were, as a result, affected more severely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of former probationers in employment dropped by 23% between 2019 and 2020, compared with a fall of 13% for all employees.

Younger age groups fare better

The figures show that younger age groups of former probationers or former prisoners tend to be paid a similar amount from employment when compared with the overall population of employees.

Former probationers aged 21 to 25 in 2018 earned €429 on average a week in 2021 – slightly less (9%) than the weekly pay of all workers (€472). In contrast, former probationers aged 41 to 50 in the same year earned €617 a week – 20% less than the pay received by all employees in the same age category (€768).

According to the CSO, women who were released from prison in 2018 experienced the largest drop in earnings following release.

Their earnings in 2019 (€226), a year following release, were 43% lower than in 2018 (€399). It points out, however, that women make up just 8% of the prison population.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland