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Number in prison to reach highest ever by next year

Prison Service warns of increased numbers imprisoned as court services resume, and Liveline callers claim they went to jail for failing to pay litter fines.

Image: M. Spencer Green/AP/Press Association Images

THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN Ireland’s prisons is expected to reach a record level of 6,000 by early 2011, according to the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

The IPS says the number of people in prison hit 4,409 yesterday, with a further 638 on temporary release and 409 others unlawfully at large.

The Irish Times reports that many of those on temporary release cannot be accomodated in prisons due to lack of space.

The latest figures represent a 50% rise in five years, and the number imprisoned is expected to increase further as full court service resumes in the coming weeks, after the summer recess.

In August, the IPS reported a huge jump in the number imprisoned for failing to pay court-ordered fines – the figure rose by 90% in 2009 compared with 2008.

Callers into RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon claim they were arrested and imprisoned for littering offences relating to a bottlebank in a SuperValu car park in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

They claim they were unable to pay the fines imposed on them, and were sent to prison.

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