"Our prisons are bulging at the seams" reports Charles Mallon in todays Evening Herald.
In the article, Mallon reports on how the overcrowding crisis has resulted in unnecessary tragedy and violence. For example, Mallon highlights the death of Gary Douche in 2006 when the Mountjoy Prison population was 525. Another inmate, Derek Glennon, died as a result of being stabbed while in Mountjoy in 2007 when the population was 568.
Yet now the population of Mountjoy has reached around 750 prisoners. This is despite the findings of the Mountjoy Visiting Committee in 2008, which stated that:
"Offenders should only be sent to prison if there is room to accommodate them, in a safe and secure manner, and certainly not to prisons already overcrowded, totally unsuitable for habitation and devoid of meaningful volumes of rehabilitation."
Mallon concludes by quoting the IPRT's concerns about the driving forces behind these rocketing prisoner numbers.
"Short sentences of three months or less made up 53pc (5,750) of all committals under sentence in 2009; 70pc (7,655) of sentenced committals were for six months or less (compared with 62pc in 2008).
"The IPRT said that this is happening at a time when there is growing international recognition that such sentences are completely counter-productive.
"The real story is that prisons are more overcrowded, more dangerous and services are being reduced."
Evening Herald A Prison Service on the Edge