The statistics, which are due to be publicly revealed shortly, confirm that prison numbers in Ireland will continue to spiral upwards. Decisions to increase the strength of the garda force up to record numbers, reducing the backlog of criminal cases in the courts and judges handing down longer sentences for serious crimes, have all put pressure on prison accommodation.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern pointed out last night that there were now 1,000 more criminals behind bars than in 2006. The figures show that there was a total of 15,425 committals to prison in 2009, which represents an increase of 13.8% on 13,557 in 2008. This follows a 13.6% increase in numbers from 2007.
Tougher sentencing policies being adopted in the courts have resulted in an increase in the number of inmates serving lengthy sentences. Those serving 10 years or more are up by 7.7% from 65 offenders to 70 and this follows an increase of 38.3% from 2008 and a 114% rise in this category from 2007. In the category of those serving 3 to 5 years, numbers are up by 35.5% from 346 in 2008 to 469 in 2009.
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