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O’Brien welcomes decision to review building of Thornton Hall Prison

1 April, 2011 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Speaking following the announcement by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that the government are planning to review the decision to build Thornton Hall, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD said the review was to be welcomed and this presented an “opportunity to take a new direction with prison policy.”

Deputy O’Brien said,

“Fianna Fáil in government spent millions on a badly thought out idea. By December 2010, spending on the prison had reached €43.3 million for purchasing additional land, surveys, landscaping, professional fees and security. When it came to this project the previous Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, threw money around like snuff at a wake so the decision to review the Thornton Hall plans are to be welcomed.

“I intend to contribute to this review and urge Minister Shatter to use this opportunity to take a new direction with prison policy by acknowledging that creating a couple of hundred extra cells is not a sufficient mechanism to tackle the prison crisis. What is really needed is a strategy to deal with increasing rates of imprisonment.

“There have been massive increases in prisoner numbers over the past few years. Justice policy must acknowledge the causal factors in these increases – poverty, embedded disadvantage, inequality and addiction – and address them accordingly. Sinn Féin is also calling on the Minister to improve prison conditions of the existing Mountjoy prison. The chronic over-crowding has created serious health and safety issues. Such overcrowding is dangerous and inhumane.

“I would urge the Minister, in the context of this review and all justice policy, to look at ‘what works.’ Unless proper drug and rehabilitative supports in prisons are resourced, alongside educational facilities, and other steps to address recidivism are focused on, we will simply be ignoring what actually needs to be done.”


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