Posts Tagged ‘prisons’
Clare questions the Minister for Justice regarding the need to address the flawed policy of sending women to prison; the ongoing efforts needed to tackle drugs inside Irish prisons, and the cutbacks in treatment available for those who want to deal with their addiction….
For Oral Answer on : 19/10/2017
Question Number(s): 10 Question Reference(s): 44225/17
Department: Justice and Equality
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to parliamentary question numbers 233 and 234 of 10 October 2017, his plans to rethink his strategy in relation to women with regard to the building of a larger prison facility and the promotion of step down facilities rather than non custodial alternatives and supported independent living.
I wish to advise the Deputy that in the joint Probation Service/Irish Prison Service Women’s Strategy 2014 – 2016, An Effective Response to Women Who Offend, published in 2014, the Irish Prison Service made a commitment to explore the development of an open centre/open conditions for women assessed as being at low risk of re-offending.
This commitment was acknowledged in the Report on the Strategic Review of Penal Policy which also recommended a greater focus on step down facilities, supported accommodation, the use of more community based open conditions for female offenders, and the provision of an open centre for women.
This Thursday (1 December) Clare’s Prisons (Solitary Confinement) (Amendment) Bill 2016 will be debated in the Dáil.
The Bill creates a definition of solitary confinement in Irish law for the first time, and, if passed, would place statutory restrictions on holding prisoners in isolation for long periods.
Currently in Ireland there is no definition of solitary confinement – instead, prisoners are held on ‘restricted regimes’ or ‘on protection’. The Minister for Justice stated last September that ‘there is no provision for solitary confinement in the Irish Prison Service’. But the reality is that prisoners being locked up for 22 to 24 hours a day and deprived of meaningful human contact – the internationally accepted definition of solitary – does happen in Irish prisons, and the State can’t ignore its human rights obligations in regard to the practice by pretending it doesn’t.
Data obtained in October by The Detail show that prisoners in Ireland may be held in solitary confinement for months, and in some cases over a year. Commenting on those figures, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, said: ‘There is no question to me that those people are suffering what constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and perhaps depending on the gravity of their suffering – even torture.’