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Violent prisoner getting his own garden also allowed personal, private access to gym and shop

“Is it a holiday in Spain for really maiming or really hurting one of our people?” is a question being asked by officers.

PRISONERS WHO ATTACK officers are being rewarded instead of disciplined – with one prisoner even getting a walled garden built for him at a cost of at least €30,000.

According to speakers at the Prison Officers’ Association conference in Athlone, prisoners who are extremely violent are being appeased by the system.

Deputy general secretary of the POA Jim Mitchell revealed that a garden being developed at the Midlands Prison is because of just one man – who is one of the most violent prisoners in the system.

I mean we have to ask ourselves, where do we go next? Is it a holiday in Spain for really maiming or really hurting one of our people?

“We believe this policy of appeasement doesn’t work, hasn’t worked and will continue to desensitise any prisoners within the prison population who actually want to improve themselves while they are inside.

“They turn around and see a guy who strikes prison officers, assaults them, really hurts them and then they say – wait a minute – you’re getting all this, why should I behave? Why should I be rehabilitated?

The reality for us is it really has a knock on effect across the system – it causes a breakdown in law and order. It generates more assaults on prison officers and more pain for our members.

It’s understood that the walled garden is being scheduled for the C1 section of the Midlands prison and that it’s primarily being constructed for prisoner Warren Dumbrell.

Assistant general secretary Gabriel Keaveney said, “A huge level of construction is involved in developing this garden. A major hole in the wall has to be drilled out.

“That’s a significant piece of work that needs to be done and we believe that between €100,000 and €150,000 is being spent.”

The Prison Service has denied that this is the cost of the walled garden with its estimate at €30,000.

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Keaveney added, “There has been, for a considerable amount of time, three staff on this individual due to the security concerns the management have, so to build a garden in that context, we don’t believe that he’s anywhere near that in his behaviour.

This individual also gets access to the prison gym and to the tuck shop at any time he wishes. In fact so much so that if [another] prisoner is using that facility, they can be put out just to facilitate this individual. He’ll demand access to the gymnasium and whoever is in there will have to leave that area.

Jim Mitchell said that the Prison Officers Association has been behind every type of incentivised regime for prisoners but that inmates should have to behave properly first.

“Bad behaviour is being rewarded … it’s not just being ignored – you could nearly live with something if it’s being ignored – what you cannot live with is when it’s actually being rewarded.”

We’ll be reporting from this year’s Prison Officers Annual Delegate Conference in Athlone, so keep an eye out and follow @CliodhnaRussell for updates.

Read: Officers “on the breadline” because of pay cuts after attacks from prisoners>

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