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(en) Ireland, WSM anarchist journal - Workers Solidarity #100 - Report Slams Irish Prisons

Date Thu, 20 Dec 2007 11:54:05 +0200

A report by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture has found that
conditions in several Irish prisons are extremely unsafe. --- It reported that
in Mountjoy, Limerick Prison and St Patrick’s in particular a high level of
violence and intimidation between prisoners is the norm. It stated that the
principal causes for this violence are a high level of drug use as well as a
lack of purposeful activity for prisoners. The problems are only likely to get
worse over the next few years as the number of drug gang members in prison
increases. --- The government’s response has only been to increase the screening
of visitors to the jail to try and prevent drug smuggling rather than doing
anything about the conditions that cause violence in prisons. The Irish prisons
have appalling conditions, they’re dingy, unhygienic and are severely
overcrowded. Not only that, but a massive number of Irish prisoners have
histories of addiction problems and severe mental health issues. A report by the
Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine found that 60% of female and 35% of male
prisoners had suffered from a psychological illness in their lives, 65% and 80%
had a drug or alcohol disorder in the previous six months and 40% and 25% had
committed self harm. These problems cannot be dealt with by the prison services;
their usual response is to hold someone in solitary ‘observation cells’, a
treatment which often does more harm than good.

While the government likes to talk tough about ‘fighting crime’ what they really
mean is fighting criminals and ignoring the social causes of crime. In Ireland
there are unquestionable connections between crime, mental illness and social
disadvantage. Continuing to shunt people with mental health and addiction
problems into the prison service without providing treatment alternatives just
maintains the cycle of disadvantage that causes crime and anti-social behaviour.
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