Cathal McMahon writes about the imprisonment of women in Ireland in Inside a women's prison: 'My daughter thinks I'm away doing a hairdressing course' published in the Irish Independent Review on Saturday 13th May 2017.
The articles states that the majority of women in custody are jailed for non-violent crimes, and women make up less than 4% of the prison population. Richard Roche, Assistant Governor at Limerick Prison, is quoted as saying that:
"In an ideal world, if it was my call, I would prefer to have a large number of smaller community care centres in local communities. It would be far more effective. We know that maintaining relationships keeps people from returning to prison. Women don't get as many visits as the lads do."
Acting Executive Director of IPRT, Fíona Ní Chinnéide, is also quoted in the article:
"Offending by women is better dealt with in the community. Gender-specific alternatives to prison, which take into account the complex needs of female offenders - for example, supported community service schemes - should be developed and made available on a nationwide basis."
The lack of a step-down facility for women and the greater difficulties women face in securing accommodation post-release than men are also addressed:
"Women leaving prison in Ireland are 4.6 times more likely to experience difficulties accessing accommodation post-release than males", Fíona Ní Chinnéide explains. Sixty percent of women on the Community Return Programme (early release) return to prison, compared with eighty-five to ninety percent compliance among men on the programme: "This significant difference may relate to poor post-release supports and lack of stable accommodation".
To read the article in full, click here.