Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Pa Daly TD, has described the Office of the Inspector of Prisons’ Annual Report on Irish prisons as making for sobering reading.
The report highlighted a number of areas of concern.
Teachta Daly said:
“The report sounds the alarm in relation to Mountjoy Prison, where many prisoners are sleeping on the floor, right beside toilets in many cases.
“Whilst the statistics in relation to prisons have improved somewhat since I raised concerns about overcrowding in April, the report leaves no room for doubt that the situation is not acceptable in many prisons.
“Poor conditions and overcrowding raise human rights concerns, frustrate rehabilitation and can make prisons contributory to criminal offences by allowing gangs to flourish.
“As the Chief Inspector himself says, the key reason behind these conditions is the increased number of people incarcerated at any one time. This is a policy matter and I welcome the Minister of Justice’s response that she will examine conditions for temporary release.
“Capital investment into some projects such as Limerick and Mountjoy are important too but we must not invest in more prison spaces solely. Rehabilitative services, restorative justice and probation all have a role to play in keeping prison numbers down. For instance in Midlands Prison, there is a need for counselling services to help prisoners avoid reoffending.
“The need for a proper and independent complaints procedure, which has been called for by groups such as the Irish Penal Reform Trust for a number of years, is also crystal clear.”