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The Irish Times: 'Adult prison facility used for minors 262 times'

7th January 2012

There were 262* committals of 16 and 17-year old boys to St Patrick's Institution in 2011, writes Pamela Duncan in The Irish Times. This represents an increase of more than 19% on 2010, when 219 boys were committed to the prison. (Two girls were also committed to prison in 2010.) 

The practice of committing children to St Patrick’s Institution, which is part of the Mountjoy Prison complex, has been deemed “completely inappropriate” by the Irish Penal Reform Trust. The Government committed in its Programme for Government to bringing an end to the practice, however the building of a new National Children Detention Facility facility in Oberstown in Lusk was not included on the Government’s capital investment framework for 2012 to 2016.

The article quotes executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Liam Herrick, as stating that there is no budget allocation for the facility and that, even in the interim period, the facility is totally inappropriate for the detention of 16- and 17-year-olds:

He said that, in the absence of action on a new-build facility at Lusk, there was an “absolutely binding responsibility” on the State to now look at other options. “The fact that we can’t end the practice of detaining children in St Patrick’s immediately does not mean that we shouldn’t be looking to reduce the number of young people in St Patrick’s in the interim period.”

Diverting some young people to other facilities or looking at alternatives for the high proportion of young people detained on remand should be looked at, among other interim measures.

Read the article in full here.

[*The figure of 262 for the number of committals of 16- and 17-year-olds at St Patrick’s Institution in 2011 is provisional.]

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