31st July 2012
Dr. Kevin Warner, former national Co-ordinator of Prison Education and current IPRT Board member, has analysed proposed cuts to prisoner 'gratuity' in an article in the Irish Examiner ('Negative, miserly, punitive', 31st July 2012). Three new levels of payment (€0.95, €1.40, €2.20) have been proposed by the Irish Prison Service to replace the current €2.35 daily allowance, which is usually spent on toiletries, cigarettes, newspapers, batteries for radios, etc. According to Dr. Warner, the allowance reductions will further worsen the financial burden on prisoners' families: 'Many families can ill afford to make such payments, especially when they may have a further financial burden to carry in travelling long distances to make prison visits. For such families, the financial pressure is about to be worsened considerably.'
By paying a higher allowance to prisoners who work than to those engaged with education or training, Dr. Warner argues that the proposal would violate the European Prison Rules, as well as penalising the hundreds of inmates who are 'on protection' and therefore unable to participate in employment or any other meaningful activity.