Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis has called for urgent action to address the findings of a Criminal Justice Inspection Report which found that the use of Care and Supervision Units in prisons in the north failed to meet expected UN Standard Minimum Rules known as Mandela Rules.
The party’s Justice Spokesperson said:
“Today’s report by CJINI found that some prisoners, including vulnerable prisoners and those with severe mental disorders and complex behavioural problems, experienced a regime that amounted to extended solitary confinement and which failed to meet their needs.
“The report found that many of these prisoners were left isolated in their cells for 22 or more hours a day without meaningful human contact, without sufficient access to purposeful activity including learning and skills and physical activity.
“This is a damning report which demonstrates that despite the progress made by the Prison Service in recent years to improve outcomes for prisoners, it still has a long way to go to meet the standards expected.
“It is shocking and unacceptable that some of the most vulnerable people in the care of the prison service have been segregated without access to sufficient health care provision.
“The report also raises serious questions around how such ineffective oversight of each CSU by senior leadership, that led to an inconsistent approach to prisoner care and treatment, could go on for so long.
“I commend CJINI for delivering this report and I will be following up with the Minister of Justice and the Director General of the Prison Service to ensure the recommendations of the report are implemented as a matter of urgency.”