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Inspector criticises management in deaths of 24 prisoners

The deaths occurred between January 2012 and June 2014.

Image: Photocall Ireland

THE INSPECTOR OF Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, today outlined a series of mistakes and shortcomings by prison management leading up to the deaths of 24 prisoners.

In a report on the fatalities, between 2012 and June 2014, Reilly pointed to a lack of proper management structure, incomplete medical records and inappropriate risk assessment, among other failings.

In the period covered by his investigation, 34 prisoners died – 15 while in custody and 19 while prisoners were on temporary release.

Today’s report relates to 24 of those deaths.

While Kelly stated that prison management acted satisfactorily in most cases, he outlined a long list of worrying shortcomings:

  • Non-existent or deficient line management structure in supervising the checking of prisoners during periods of lock down
  • Prisoners on special observation not checked according to standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Inappropriate risk assessment before prisoners were let out on temporary release
  • Incomplete records, including medical records
  • Impossible to tell from medical records whether prisoners had availed of, or were offered psychiatric help
  • One prisoner who died was known to be vulnerable, and “should have been supervised in the community”, but no supervision was put in place before their temporary release
  • Prison governors’ and chiefs’ orders were not complied with
  • CCTV coverage not good enough
  • Availability of drugs, mobile telephones and other contraband in prisons
  • One prisoner who died was known to be homeless and vulnerable, but no assessment was carried out before their release, and there was no link up with an appropriate agency in the community.

Responding to today’s report, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald made the following statement:

I would first like to take this opportunity to offer to the families concerned my sincere condolences on their tragic loss.
The death of any person in State custody must be thoroughly examined and I expect that the Irish Prison Service and indeed all the statutory agencies involved, will work hard to address the findings and recommendations in the Inspector’s reports.

Scroll down to read today’s report in full.

Read: Family asks why media knew about tinfoil found in dead prisoner’s cell before they did>

Over 90% of the beds in Irish prisons are taken>

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Omnibus%20report%20of%20investigations%20into%20the%20deaths%20of%20prisoners.pdf/Files/Omnibus%20report%20of%20investigations%20into%20the%20deaths%20of%20prisoners.pdf

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Dan MacGuill

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