Mattresses pulled out for prisoners

Louise Hickey

100% bed capacity figures cause concern for the Irish Prison Reform Trust (IPRT).

The total number of people in prison now exceeds the beds available and prisoners are now sleeping on mattresses. 

There are currently 4,416 prisoners in custody with only a 4,411 bed capacity across the country, according to the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

The number of people in Irish prisons has increased exponentially as 750 people were incarcerated in 1970; 1,200 in 1980; 2,100 in 1990; and 2,948 in 2000. 

The IPRT is calling on the Minister for Justice to make immediate efforts to adequately resource the proposed actions in the recently published Review of Policy Options for Prison and Penal Reform. 

The review aims to reduce the number of people sent to prison. IPRT Acting Executive Director Ms. Molly Joyce has called this a “watershed moment” for Irish prisons. 

She added that “there continues to be an over-reliance on imprisonment for people convicted of less serious offences, despite its damaging social and economic impact on individuals, families, and communities”.

Although overcrowding of prisons is across the country, some demographics are disproportionately suffering. Mountjoy female prison is at 103% capacity and Limerick female prison is at 164% capacity.

The setting up of a new male and female prison accommodation in Limerick Prison will provide an additional 90 male spaces and 22 additional female spaces. The new male accommodation is now partially open and the female accommodation is expected to open in the first quarter of this year. 

Louise Hickey

Image credit: Getty Images