IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Key Issues for Drugs Policy in Irish Prisons

23rd June 2008

This paper, by the Drug Policy Action Group, outlines past and current Irish prison policy on drugs and gives an overview of the current practical reality of drug use in Irish prisons. It analyses the key issues arising from current drugs policy in Irish prisons.

The paper takes the view that disproportionate emphasis has heretofore been placed on law enforcement to eliminate illicit drug use, which has contributed significantly to the failure of authorities to initiate, implement or properly fund harm reductive, treatment and preventative actions. It contends that the Irish prison system plays a unique and central role in the Irish prohibitionist system, and has made an enormous independent contribution to the spread and escalation of destructive drug use in Irish society. 

The paper argues that the failures of the past can and should inspire a determination to redouble efforts and do whatever is necessary to improve matters, combining current positive medical initiatives with sociological, psychological and environmental initiatives. It posits that a rehabilitative approach must be taken which entails a strong focus on education, training and the purposeful occupation of prisoners.