Stop Ignoring Chronic Prison Problems
The Irish Prison Service and the Minister for Justice and Equality must stop ignoring chronic problems in our prisons including overcrowding, restricted regimes and a lack of provision for young adults.
In light of the announcement by Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan yesterday [7 June, 2018] that the Irish Prison Service’s 2017 Annual Report will be launched in the coming weeks, the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice (JCFJ) has expressed serious concerns about the problems which persist in Ireland's prisons.
Chronic overcrowding, a lack of provision for the needs of young adults, and the persistently high number of prisoners on restricted regimes are all areas in urgent need of attention.
Overcrowding has been an issue in the Dóchas Centre [the women’s prison at Mountjoy] for more than a decade, and is also a chronic problem in Limerick's men’s and women’s prisons. By not adhering to the maximum bed capacity limits, the prison service is ignoring the Inspector of Prisons and flouting its own maximum capacity figures for these institutions.
The number of prisoners on restricted regimes - locked in a cell for more than 19 hours a day - has increased by approximately 12 percent in the year covered by the annual report and now stands at 481 individuals. Figures for the year previous  indicated that over a quarter of the prison population were ‘on-protection’. The JCFJ would like to see a reduction in these numbers reflected in the 2017 report.
2017 marked a welcome end to children being detained in adult prisons. However, now is the time to outline a plan to address the needs of young and vulnerable adults in detention, which a JCFJ report identified as a particularly vulnerable group who require a greater level of intervention and support.
The JCFJ would like to see a reiterated commitment to reduce the number of people in prison in the report, as well as an explanation for why the number of prisoners offered a place on the Community Return Programme reduced so dramatically in 2017.
Posted in Criminality, Prisons and Justice News