The Community Return Scheme is an incentivised scheme for the supervised release of qualifying prisoners who complete unpaid community work as a condition of their early release.
It gives prisoners, whom the Irish Prison Service and Probation Service have assessed as being suitable and motivated, the opportunity of early - and renewable temporary release with resettlement support. It is available for those who have been assessed as posing no threat to the community; are serving more than one year and fewer than eight years, and who have served at least 50% of their sentence. The programme involves participants doing supervised community service instead of remaining in prison. If you are placed on Community Return the expectations on you are similar to that of Community Service; you must complete the work on the days assigned for the length of time it was agreed. This is usually near the end of your sentence.
Among the beneficial outcomes of this scheme is shifting the balance of the criminal justice system away from prison and toward crime prevention and paying back to the community.
Research has shown that Community Return is a successful strategy. In a study of the programme for the period 2011-2013, almost 89% had either successfully completed their Community Return Programme or were still working on it. Of those participants released during the first year of the programme, 91% had not been committed to prison on a new custodial sentence in the period up to the end of 2013.