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25 people a day are being jailed for not paying fines

The high number of people being jailed for non-payment has been described as “expensive and pointless”.

Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire

TWENTY FIVE PEOPLE a day are being sent to prison for not paying fines according to new figures.

Almost 4,500 people have been jailed in the first six months of the year alone, marking a significant increase on previous years.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust described the high numbers of people being sent to prison as “expensive and pointless”.

“It is costing the taxpayer millions in terms of Garda, Courts, and Prison Service resources, along with the lost revenue in unpaid fines,” said a spokesperson.

The IPRT called on the Minister for Justice to speed up changes to technology in the courts which will allow people to pay fines in instalments.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that people in jail for non-payment of fines make up a “tiny fraction” of the overall prison population. People jailed the offence made up 0.5 per cent of the numbers in prison custody on 30 June.

The Minister has said that he plans to bring forward legislation next year which will provide for attachment of earnings and social welfare payments as an alternative to imprisonment for fines

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people jailed for not paying fines in recent years; in 2008 the total number of people jailed for not paying fines was 2,520 for the entire year. Figures jumped by 90.7 per cent in 2009 and have continued to rise every year since.

Read: Councillor jailed over failure to pay fine after Harney paint attack >

Read: Referendum will allow radical reform of courts system >

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