28th October 2008
IPRT Welcomes First Interim Report from new Prison Inspector
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) today warmly welcomed the publication of the first Interim Report of Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly. The Inspector's decision to publish this interim report in advance of his annual report demonstrates both the urgency of the issues he has identified within the prison system and Judge Reilly's commitment to highlighting these issues and to working constructively with prison authorities to address them.
The problems identified as being of most concern to Judge Reilly demonstrate a sophisticated appreciation of the priority issues within the system and reflect the issues that IPRT and international human rights bodies have identified in their work over recent years. These include:
· Prison overcrowding;
· The absence of sentence planning for all prisoners;
· The rising level of inter-prisoner violence;
· The level of drug use in prison; and
· The failure to provide proper levels of treatment to severely mentally ill prisoners.
Liam Herrick, IPRT Director particularly welcomed Judge Reilly's prioritisation of mental health issues in his report:
"This is an issue on which IPRT has been consistently raising, including through litigation, for the past decade and where, despite the efforts of the Irish Prison Service and the Central Mental Hospital, the HSE has consistently failed to make available urgently needed resources. The Inspector's recognition of the right of severely ill prisoners to mental health treatment in an appropriate setting is a landmark statement and we hope that his prioritisation of this issue receives the political attention it demands."
The methods of work adopted by the Inspector and evidenced in his recently published report on Loughan House Prison are particularly impressive and clearly build on the work of his predecessor Judge Kinlen while also incorporating the best practice from similar oversight bodies around the world. Liam Herrick stated
"IPRT has consistently campaigned for robust and well-resourced accountability structures to oversee the prison system and we are hugely encouraged by the work of the Inspector to date. Most significantly, the Inspector has signalled his intention to develop standards for all prisons that will draw on international human rights principles.
We believe that a framework of clear standards and benchmarks will greatly assist the Prison Service and all of us committed to prisoner rights in setting out a practical map for achieving the protection of human rights within the prison system."
Liam Herrick, Executive Director, Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT)
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