Irish Penal Reform Trust

IPRT welcomes progress on Cork Prison but warns against penal expansion

16th January 2014

IPRT welcomes the progress on replacing Cork Prison. Cork Prison is not fit for purpose, with no in-cell sanitation, doubling up in small cells, and inadequate medical facilities and visiting facilities. The prison has received a number of highly critical reports from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), among others. To this end, IPRT welcomes that work will shortly commence on building a new prison.

However, IPRT is concerned at the plans for increased capacity in the new prison. The current prison has a design capacity of 150. The new prison will have the capacity to accommodate up to 310 prisoners. Coming at a time when crime rates are decreasing and numbers in prison are being reduced, IPRT regrets the decision to design for doubling up, and calls on the Irish Prison Service to set targets for achieving the principle of single-occupancy across the prison system over the medium term.

IPRT also notes the positive actions that have been undertaken to reduce the daily numbers in Cork Prison from a peak of more than 310 in 2011 to around 225 during 2013. IPRT believes that the positive approaches contained in the IPS strategy document, Unlocking Community Alternatives - A Cork Approach, should be retained after the new prison is operational, including: inter-agency co-operation, diversion, sentence-planning, and community return. 

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