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Irish Examiner: 'Prison a ‘powder keg’ for people with psychiatric problems'

23rd April 2009

Writing in the Irish Examiner, Claire O’Sullivan reports on the description of prison by the Irish Penal Reform Trust as the worst possible place for a person with schizophrenia and a "powder keg" for people with psychiatric problems.

This follows the conviction of Stephen Egan for the manslaughter of 21-year-old Gary Douche in a holding prison cell. Egan was found guilty on grounds of diminished responsibility of the killing.

Egan, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, was transferred from the Central Mental Hospital to Mountjoy Prison three days before the killing, without his anti-psychotic medication, the Court heard. At the time of the killing, there were seven inmates in the cell.

The article quotes IPRT's Liam Herrick as saying that the Douche case raised "really fundamental questions about how the prison service and the medical authorities deal with people who are in need of acute medical care".

UN and Council of Europe concernsare restated, along with questions over the HSE's capacity to provide appropriate psychiatric care in prisons. The article quotes Liam from an RTÉ interview:

"We can see that prison is the worst possible place for somebody with schizophrenia, that stress can exacerbate the condition; that prisons are often overcrowded... and conditions are poor. This is a powder keg for someone who has psychiatric problems, someone who is maybe hearing voices".

The full story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, April 23, 2009.

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