26th April 2010
This article by Conor Lally appeared in The Irish Times on Monday the 26th of April.
In Ms Mc Mahon’s resignation letter to the prison service authorities she said her role had been made “completely impossible” in recent months. Ms McMahon strongly criticised the prison service, telling The Irish Times it was now characterised by a lack of consultation with key staff in the jails. Rehabilitative facilities were also being negatively impacted.
The Dóchas Centre had become chronically overcrowded with up to 137 women housed in a centre designed for 85. “Sometimes there are [prisoners’] babies as well. It is absolutely dreadful.”
She has stated that many of the women are low risk to society and they should never have been jailed. Ms McMahon said the regime within the centre had been designed to treat women with dignity and respect aimed at their successful reintegration into society. However, the centre was now so overcrowded, the progressive regime was being cannibalised.
She believed a decision had been made to introduce a more punitive regime involving holding as many women as possible in an already overcrowded centre. She fears that the prison will go back to the way it was previously with high rates of drug abuse, depression and self harm.
Ms McMahon’s criticisms emerge on the same day Paul MacKay of Mountjoy’s visiting committee writes in The Irish Times of having complained of “appalling conditions” in the men’s jail.
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To access article on conditions in the men's prison click here