Writing in the Irish Examiner, Noel Baker reports that 1,200 prisoners are now accessing drug counselling in prison, while 34 people are on a waiting list for drug treatment programmes. 23 of these are in Mountjoy; 3 in the Midlands Prison; 6 in Wheatfield and 6 in Cloverhill.
The new figures from the Irish Prison Service revealed that over the course of 2010, 1,196 prisoners engaged with the Merchants Quay Addiction Counselling Service.
A spokesman for the prison service indicated that some on waiting lists for treatment cannot begin on methadone due to the lack of a community placement. The article cites the prison service drug treatment clinical policy: "Before a methadone maintenance programme is initiated a treatment place must be sought from, and confirmed with, the community agency who will provide follow-up care and methadone prescribing on release from prison."
Methadone maintenance is available in eight of the 14 prisons accounting for over 75% of the prison population. Currently, there is no methadone service provision in Cork Prison. However, this is likely to begin by the middle of 2011.
Currently, there are just 9 places available in the prison system for a therapeutic drug-free programme; these are in Mountjoy Prison.
There are drug-free units in Wheatfield Prison, St Patrick’s Institution, Castlerea Prison and Mountjoy Prison; inmates who wish to remain substance-free can able to apply for transfer to these units.
Read the Irish Examiner article in full here.