31st December 2009
3,366 people were imprisoned in Ireland for failing to pay fines up to the end of October 2009. This represents a jump of over 50% on the total figure for 2008.
A further 157 people were jailed in the first 10 months of 2009 for non-payment of a civil debt; this is a reduction on 2008, which saw 276 people imprisoned up to end of 2008.
The rise in imprisonment for fine defaulting continues to persist despite the chronic overcrowding in Irish prisons, the high costs of imprisonment, and solid evidence that community service programmes are far more successful than custodial sentences in dealing with fine defaulters, over 85% of whom return to prison within 4 years.