Why do so many prisoners reoffend?
According to the CSO, 61% of inmates released in 2017 had reoffended by the year 2020.
The reoffending rate was especially high for burglars, of whom 78% continued to break the law.
One man who has some insight into the phenomenon of reoffending is Damien Quinn, who spent three years behind bars in the early 2000s after he was convicted for drug dealing and fighting.
In his own words, Mr Quinn had a “troubled youth” but decided to “make the best of a bad situation” once he was sent to jail.
“I used the time constructively to get an education and prepare myself for a better future when I got out,” he said.
Thinking he had done enough to turn his life around, Mr Quinn realised to his shock that he had been “naive” about the extent of society’s disdain for criminals.
“I thought if I’d done everything I possibly could to set myself up, get qualified, all that type of thing that it would mean something when I left,” he said.
“When I left I was trying to get a house, there was Garda vetting and, ‘No way are you getting on the council list.’
“Trying to get into college, turned down, trying to volunteer, turned down.
“Trying to get a job, turned down.”
It got to the point that Mr Quinn decided he “wouldn’t even bother applying” for many things.
“There’s nothing worse than telling somebody you don’t even know the worst secret about yourself that you’re trying to get away from and move on from,” he said.
“Knowing that it’s not going to go anywhere anyway, it’s a very hard situation to be in.”
All in all, he became very “disillusioned” with the world and he then “got myself into all sorts of trouble”.
It was only by chance that he managed to turn his life around.
“I found a course then with Equal Ireland - which was Business and Community Development,” he said.
“They’re all about second chance education and I started learning with them and that was the beginning of a different life for me.”
It is, he believes, a lesson for Irish society if it ever wants to see the reoffending rate drop and crime reduced.
“Society in general really needs to think about whether or not they want people to go and get rehabilitated and come out and play a participatory role in society,” he said.
“Or do they want them to just go round and round in circles?”
You can listen back here:
Main image: An arrested woman stands with her hands in handcuffs.