Scores of Northern Ireland prisoners released for Christmas
Scores of prisoners have today been released into the free world for Christmas leave.
The Northern Ireland Prison Service confirmed 79 lags have been granted leave for varying periods between Friday and January 2, 2018 with various conditions attached.
Of those released 35 are from Northern Ireland's highest security prison, Maghaberry. Another 35 have been released from Magilligan. Nineteen of those released are serving life or indeterminate sentences - that is those prisoners that are thought to be the highest risk to the public.
Six young men and three women are being released from Hydebank Wood College.
Last year 93 prisoners were released for Christmas.
All prisoners granted Christmas home leave have been the subject of a satisfactory risk assessment and have either successfully completed a home leave programme or undergone periods of unaccompanied testing in the community, the Prison Service said.
Those released must be within three years of their jail term's end, have been recommended for release by parole commissioners and have suddessfully completed an unaccompanied overnight release in the past.
Only those sentenced before October 31 are eligible and those on remand - that is awaiting trail - are not eligible.
Northern Ireland prisons currently holds 1,417 prisoners.
Belfast Telegraph Digital