16th July 2019
The Irish Prison Service's annual report released last month (available here) highlighted the over-reliance on prison sentencing within the criminal justice system. As of July 1st 2019, the prison population currently stands at 4,015. Consequently, some prisons within the estate are experiencing considerable overcrowding, the effects of which pose detrimental effects to prisoners' well-being, quality of life, and effective rehabilitation while in custody.
An article in today's Irish Examiner has again called attention to the impact of prison overcrowding. Figures supplied by the Minister in response to a parliamentary question by now MEP Clare Daly in June 2019 show that an average of 45 prisoners slept on mattresses between February and May this year, with Limerick prison and Midlands prison the worst affected by the rising numbers.
Commenting on the extent of overcrowding in the article, IPRT Executive Director Fíona Ní Chinnéide states:
"Prisoners sleeping on floors is a clear breach of the most basic human rights standards, including European prison rules. It is unacceptable and undermines rehabilitation, with future implications for public safety. Crowding in prisons increases tensions, violence and drugs, putting the safety of staff and prisoners at risk. This will become worse in summer, when prison schools are closed for four weeks."
Last month, in response to the increasing population cited in the Irish Prison Service's annual report, IPRT reiterated the need for recognition of the principle of imprisonment as a last resort and the effective use of alternatives to custody. IPRT have called on the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan to:
The Irish Examiner article, by Cormac O'Keeffe, is available here.