The Director of the Prison Service says up to 20 inmates will be electronically tagged on temporary release as part of a new pilot programme due to begin in June.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern announced the introduction of the new satellite tracking pilot programme at the Prison Officers’ Association annual conference in Killarney.
Brian Purcell said these would be low-risk prisoners from all over the country.
One of them is likely to be convicted murderer and rapist Geoffrey Evans, who is serving a life sentence for raping and killing two young women in Wicklow and Galway in 1975.
Evans has been in a coma in the Mater Hospital since December 2008.
Mr Purcell said tagging him would allow the Irish Prison Service to assess the effects on high-tech medical equipment in a hospital environment.
He said it would also save the €900,000 a year it costs to keep six prisoner officers guarding him 24 hours every day.
Minister Ahern said he did not think there were moral or ethical issues involved and that Evans would benefit from not being subjected to the indignity of having prison officers with him all the time.