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There have been 8 deaths in prison custody to date this year, and 100 deaths in 10 years

The figures to 1 October this year are down on the 15 deaths that occurred in Irish prisons last year.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

EIGHT PRISONERS HAVE died in custody to date this year resulting in a total of 100 prisoners to have died in custody since 2010.

That is according to new figures provided by the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee where she reveals that all of the eight deaths in custody this year are male.

The figures provided by Minister McEntee in response to a written Dáil question from Independent TD Thomas Pringle show that in 2020 two deaths have occurred in Castlerea, two in Arbour Hill and one each at Cloverhill, Cork, Wheatfield and Limerick prisons.

  • Read more here on how you can support a major Noteworthy project to examine the level of overcrowding, medical treatment and access to resources in jails.

The figures to 1 October this year are down on the 15 deaths that occurred in Irish prisons last year.

The 2019 total included one female death at the Dóchas centre last year.

The 2019 statistics show that four deaths occurred in custody at the Midlands prison; three deaths at Arbour Hill prison and two at Wheatfield prison.

Minister McEntee confirmed that there were nine deaths in custody in 2018; nine in 2017, five in 2016; 15 in 2015; eight in 2014; nine in 2013; five in 2012; six in 2011 and 11 in 2010.

On the causes of death determined by a coroner in each case, Minister McEntee confirmed that 18 were classified as misadventure; 17 as suicide; 15 as natural causes; an open verdict in six; a narrative verdict in six, ‘deceased took own life’ in two and unlawful killing in one.

Minister McEntee stated that inquests are pending in relation to the remaining 35 deaths in custody.

One of those prisoners to die in custody is Keith Lee (42) who was accused of his murdering his estranged wife, Joanne Ball (38).

While on remand at Mountjoy prison, Lee was found dead in the bathroom of his cell on 12 April 2018; the Inspector of Prisons report was published into the death earlier this year.

The most recent death in custody concerns a 36 year old man who died at Cloverhill prison in Dublin after an incident on 28 September during which he was subjected to control and restraint techniques by prison officers.

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Three separate investigations are underway into the prisoner’s death, from the Gardaí, the Inspector of Prisons, and the Irish Prison Service.

In her reply to Pringle, Minister McEntee stated that all deaths in custody are subject to an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons.

She stated: “The Irish Prison Service also has an internal review mechanism which assesses the circumstances of a death in custody, highlights accountability and outlines any actions to be taken in relation to the incident.”

Minister McEntee also confirmed that all deaths in custody are notified to the Gardaí and the cause of death is determined at the coroner’s court.

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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