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Sunday Tribune: Prison population over 5,000

1st August 2010

In the Sunday Tribune, Ali Bracken, Crime Correspondent, reports on latest figures from the Irish Prison Service (IPS) which show further increases in prisoner numbers. The figures come after the announcement that Thonrton Hall is to go ahead, on a phased basis. The plans for the construction of the new prison have been attacked by opposition parties.

Figures given in the article for Thurs 29th July are:

  • total prison population: 5,274
  • 784 inmates on temporary release
  • 4,491 prisoners in custody across Irish jails
  • total bed capacity: 4,236
  • therefore, 250 inmates without beds

As has been reported often over the past year, the bed capacity is increased by putting in bunk beds, which turns two-person cells into four-person cells, and placing mattresses on floors in prison showering, basement and reception areas.

"Reacting to the figures, Liam Herrick of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), said: "This is a situation that's out of control. This is a dangerous situation, both for inmates and staff. This is another alarming increase. There are chronic overcrowding problems at Mountjoy, the Dóchas Centre and Cork prisons. There has been a very worrying pattern of a steady increase in the prison population. The reasons for this need to be examined and addressed."

Responding to the Sunday Tribune, the Irish Prison Service acknowledged that prisoner numbers have been increasing quite significantly in recent years - by 11% (436 prisoners) in the last 12 months alone - and claimed once more that it cannot refuse committals from the Courts.

Read the Sunday Tribune article in full here.

Numbers of prisoners in custody on Thurs 29th July, 2010 (the numbers in brackets are bed capacity per prison):

  • Mountjoy (male): 721 (630)
  • Mountjoy (female): 146 (105)
  • St Patrick's Institution: 220 (217)
  • Cork: 323 (272)
  • Limerick (male): 309 (290)
  • Limerick (female): 27 (20)
  • Castlerea: 400 (351)
  • Cloverhill: 475 (431)
  • Wheatfield: 505 (470)
  • Portlaoise: 279 (359)
  • Arbour Hill: 151 (148)
  • Training Unit: 114 (107)
  • Midlands: 560 (566)
  • Loughan House: 151 (160)
  • Shelton Abbey: 110 (110)
  • Totals 4,491 (4,236)
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