NI prisoners home for Christmas

A number of prisoners service life sentences have been released over Christmas.

Seventy-two prisoners, including 11 on life sentence, will be released for Christmas leave.

Friday, 21 December 2012
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They will be home between 21 December and 2 January 2013, after successfully applying to get out over the festive season.

Thirty-six prisoners are being released from Magilligan, while 23 have been allowed out of Maghaberry, 11 of which are life sentence prisoners.

Eight young offenders have been granted leave from Hydebank, while five women are also being released.

A spokesperson for the prison service said, "All prisoners granted home leave at Christmas have been subject to a satisfactory risk assessment and have either successfully completed a home leave programme or undergone periods of unaccompanied testing in the community."

A further 112 prisoners were refused leave, and this year's numbers are down on Christmas 2011, when 87 prisoners were given Christmas Home Leave.

Life prisoners must be within three years of their sentence, or have passed it, and successfully undergone programmed release before they are eligible.

Those who have been jailed for life without a tariff must have been in custody for at least 10 years, while remand prisoners do not qualify for the leave.

At unlock on Friday, 1698 prisoners were being held in prisons in Northern Ireland.