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O’Brien comments on 4,738 drug seizures in Irish prisons

5 April, 2012 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien criticised the government’s commitment to ensuring that prisons are drug-free in response to the 4,728 drug seizures in Irish prisons from 2009 to February of this year. These figures were contained in information provided by the Minister for Justice as requested by Deputy O’Brien.

The Cork North Central TD said:
“While there was a small reduction in drug seizures between 2010 and 2011 overall, Castlerea, Cork, Limerick, Midlands and Wheatfield Prisons all saw substantial increases in drug seizures. Previous government policy placed an emphasis on reducing the availability of drugs in prisons at the expense of measures to provide drug counselling, treatment or rehabilitation programmes. Clearly this has failed as there is still substantial demand for drugs in Irish prisons and the current government has simply picked up where the previous left off.
“St Patrick’s Institution saw a rise from 20 drug seizures in 2009, to 206 seizures in 2011. The worrying thing about the figures in all of these statistics is that we do not know whether the increases in seizures are denting the actual scale of drug consumption in Irish prisons. According to National Documentation Centre on Drug Use, almost 44% of prisoners tested in Mountjoy tested positive for opiates in 2010. In Cork Prison in 2010, 23.9% of prisoners tested, were shown to have benzodiazepines in their system. These figures are astonishing.
"Of course measures should be in place to prevent the availability of drugs in prisons but the priority should be on providing effective counselling, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. If you prevent a prisoner from receiving drugs in prison without providing proper counselling and rehabilitation the chances are that the inmate will return to drugs as soon as he/she is released. It renders the entire incarceration system useless.
"I am calling on the minister to place the emphasis harm-reduction, treatment and rehabilitation programmes.”

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