Sinn Féin welcomes Prison Service Strategy
Speaking following the publication of the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2012-2015, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien broadly welcomed the document stating that it was a promising move from the Irish Prison Service, and added that there is now an onus on the Minister for Justice and Equality to ensure that the Irish Prison Service is adequately resourced to deliver its strategic aims.
The Cork North Central TD said;
“We broadly welcome this document, and while it may not go as far as we would like in terms of prison reform, we believe it is a promising move from the Irish Prison Service. The core principle of justice policy should be to use prison as a sentence of last resort and this document will obviously not address that, but we are happy to see one of the aims contained in the document is to reduce prison over-crowding, as well as moving towards normalisation of the prison regime.
“We are supportive of the Community Return Scheme for appropriate prisoners. Sinn Féin believes that adequate post-release supervision of offenders serving the remainder of their sentence within the community is required in tandem with this policy in order to reduce the likelihood of reoffending and thereby enhance community safety. Such supervision requires the dedication of sufficient additional probationary and community based rehabilitative resources including provision of appropriate temporary accommodation and appropriate health services including mental health and drug services where required. There is an onus on the Minister for Justice to ensure that additional resources are supplied according to need.
“We are concerned that the Strategy does not include a commitment to end multiple-occupancy of cells as is required under the European Prison Rules and we will continue to call upon the Minister to end this practice.
“Prison policy should be based in a human rights framework and there must be increased moves towards ending the practice of slopping out and ensuring that the dignity and rights of prisoners are upheld. The Minister for Justice should now use this as a starting point towards working towards a humane justice and penal policy.”