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prison life

What goes on in Ireland's jails? Prison culture to be put under the microscope

The training and continuous development of prison staff is one aspect that will be reviewed in a major new audit.

AN ASSESSMENT OF the culture in Irish prisons and whether it helps or hinders the service is to be carried out by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly.

The review is to be completed by September of this year.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said much has been done to address the issues that have adversely affected Irish prisons for decades, such as overcrowding and living conditions, adding:

… but I believe more can be done if we build on the investment already made.

Snapshot figures from the Irish Prison Services today show there are 3,712 prisoners in custody in prisons nationwide.

Mountjoy Prison is at 99% bed capacity, while the female unit is at 105% bed capacity.

There are still 4 children (17 year olds) in St Patrick’s Institution, despite commitments by government it would be closed, and despite calls by the previous Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan that this should be expedited.

The inspection report will review the roles and responsibilities of those working in the service and audit how the present method of service provision meets the objectives stated in the vision of the Irish Prison Service.

The training and continuous development of prison staff at all levels will also be surveyed.

The relationship between the Irish Prison Service and the Department of Justice and Equality will also be reviewed.

While the Irish Penal Reform Trust welcomed today’s announcement, it said the review does not diminish the acute need for stronger accountability mechanisms in the Irish prison system.

Read: Isolating ‘puppet master’ gang leaders should stem the supply of drugs in prisons>

Read: Timeline to end ‘slopping out’ in prisons needs to be set>

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