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More prisons and bigger prisons not the answer -- Ó Snodaigh

11 September, 2006

Speaking following a statement from the Prison Officer's Association saying that Mountjoy Prison is the most overcrowded that it has been in recent years, Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said that 'more prisons and bigger prisons is not the answer'. Suggesting Minister McDowell was posing as tough on crime rather than dealing with the problem, Deputy Ó Snodaigh called for evidence based approaches to reducing recidivism and prison overcrowding.

The Dublin South-Central TD said: "After the tragic death of Gary Douch in Mountjoy Prison at the end of September, the Irish Prison Service rejected suggestions that Mountjoy was overcrowded, or that overcrowding had contributed to Mr Douch's death. The Prison Officer's Association has confirmed numerous other sources in its statement saying that Mountjoy is more overcrowded than it has been in years.

"Almost 60% of prison sentences in this state are for six months or less costing between €40,000 to €100,000 per prisoner for the period. The equivalent community service order, shown to have a positive impact on re-offending rates, for that period would cost approximately €1,500. Provision of proper educational and recreational facilities for prisoners, sorely missing in the Irish prison system, has also been shown to have a demonstrable negative impact on recidivism.

"More prisons and bigger prisons is not the answer regardless of whether it grabs the headline, or allows the Minister to pose as tough on crime. Proper resourcing of the Probation & Welfare service, moving prisoners with mental illnesses and disabilities into mental health treatment centres and proper educational facilities to combat recidivism constitutes an evidence based approach to reducing prison numbers, and crime."


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