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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C
jailhouse dosh

Irish prisons paid €3 million in 'pocket money' to inmates last year

The Irish Prison Service has paid out over €27 million in pocket money to prisoners since 2009.

shutterstock_174659255 Shutterstock / sakhorn Shutterstock / sakhorn / sakhorn

CONVICTED CRIMINALS WERE paid almost €3 million in pocket money while serving time in Irish prisons last year, new figures have revealed.

Every inmate in a prison here receives a daily allowance from the Irish Prison Service (IPS), which can be used to buy discretionary items such as magazines, confectionery or cigarettes.

A total of €27,378,910 has been gifted to prisoners under the taxpayer-funded scheme since 2009.

Last year alone, €2,935,300 was doled out to inmates of the State’s 14 detention centres; representing an increase of €214,179 compared to 2015.

Midlands Prison in Portlaoise accounted for €649,922 of the total amount last year, while prisoners at Mountjoy Prison received €391,348 in pocket money during the same period.

The full breakdown for Irish prisons from 2015 is:

  • Midlands €649,922
  • Mountjoy €391,348
  • Wheatfield €354,173
  • Cloverhill €279,085
  • Castlerea €233,166
  • Cork €197,674
  • Limerick €184,565
  • Portlaoise €163,666
  • Arbour Hill €126,840
  • Loughan House €98,782
  • Shelton Abbey €85,915
  • Mountjoy Women’s Prison €85,487
  • Training Unit (Dublin) €84,581
  • St Pat’s Institution €94
  • TOTAL €2,935,300

Prior to 2012, all inmates were entitled to a flat-rate gratuity payment of €2.35 per day. However, an incentivised regime was subsequently introduced allowing prisoners’ pocket money to be increased or reduced depending on their behaviour.

A standard daily rate of €1.70 now applies but this can be increased to an “enhanced” rate of €2.20 per day if a prisoner is compliant, or reduced to a “basic” rate of 95c per day if a prisoner misbehaves.

Records released by the IPS under the Freedom of Information Act show that 46% of the prison population were on the “enhanced” rate of €2.20 per day towards the end of last year.

A further 47% of prisoners were being paid the daily allowance at the standard rate of €1.70 per day, while just 7% of inmates had been downgraded to the “basic” rate of €0.95 per day.

A spokesperson for the IPS said that the incentivised regime had provided for a differentiation of privileges between prisoners according to their level of engagement with services and quality of behaviour.

“The objective is to provide tangible incentives to prisoners to participate in structured activities and to reinforce good behaviour, leading to a safer and more secure environment,” he said.

In addition to the daily allowance, prisoners may also receive additional payments under the Approved Working Gratuity Scheme, which rewards work in areas such as kitchens, laundry, grounds maintenance, painting, and cleaning.
The amount paid for engagement in these activities is €0.50 per session, up to a maximum of €3.50 per week.

Monies paid to prisoners can be spent on a broad range of discretionary items from the prison tuck shop such as toiletries or tobacco, as well as television rental and other services. It can also be saved and made available to prisoners upon their release.

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Darragh McDonagh
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