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Nearly 3% of prison sentences wrongly calculated

05 Jul 2019 / justice Print

Nearly 3% of jail sentences wrongly calculated

An Irish Prison Service (IPS) review has uncovered errors in the sentence lengths of almost 3% of inmates.

The Sentence Calculation Review Programme, commissioned in 2018 and undertaken by a retired prison governor, examined the cases of more than 1,600 prisoners. It found that the periods to be served in custody had been wrongly calculated in 2.8% of the files reviewed, amounting to a total of 46 cases in the files reviewed. Currently, there are more than 4,000 prisoners in jail. 

All mistakes caught

The IPS has not said whether the errors primarily related to the early or late release of prisoners, or the extent of the miscalculations. A spokesman did say said that all the mistakes had been caught before the inmates were due to be released. Their files had been amended to reflect the correct release date, he said, adding: “No prisoner was let out in error.”

Earlier this year, IPS director general Caron McCaffrey said that the service was facing a significant number of claims relating to the unlawful detention of prisoners. He added that sentence calculation was “complicated and technical in nature”.

Recording errors

The IPS review also revealed errors in the recording of periods when prisoners returned from being unlawfully at large.

Problems were also idenified when inmates were moved between sentencing and remand periods in jail – and there were mistakes in incorrectly credited periods for time served.

There were also more than 80 further errors in prisoner records. However, it was found that these had no impact on the calculation of sentences. 

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