The Irish Penal Reform Trust has today welcomed Minister Michael McDowell's decision to close Mountjoy Prison, saying that the closure of the antiquated facility is long overdue. However, the organisation expressed continuing concerns about the Minister's plans for the building of a new prison, and whether that prison will be a privatised facility. The organisation was commenting on the "Scheme of new Prisons Bill" released yesterday.
"The closure of Mountjoy Prison is to be welcomed, as it is long overdue," said IPRT Executive Director, Rick Lines. "Conditions in which prisoners are forced to live in Mountjoy are deplorable in many cases, conditions that have been regularly criticised by the Prison Inspector and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, among others. However, we continue to have concerns about plans for building a new facility to replace Mountjoy, and whether that new facility will in fact be built as a privatised prison, or under a PPP scheme which is really privatisation by another name."
According to the IPRT, international experience has shown prison privation to be a "failed policy" that has not proven to result in either cost savings or increased efficiency, and the organisation has called on the Government to produce any evidence supporting privatisation as a viable solution to current problems in the prison service.