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Human Rights in Ireland >>

What is wrong in Irish prisons?

category international | rights and freedoms | opinion/analysis author Tuesday June 21, 2011 14:47author by Brian Flannery - Justice Report this post to the editors

Irish Prisons

In the last 10 years, numbers have risen drastically with people being incarcerated in prisons throughout Ireland.

We need a complete overhaul in the way our prisons are run. The latest report by Judge Reilly, Inspector of Prisons were shocking and indicated that many laws have been in fact been breached viz a viz basic human rights.

Ireland's prison numbers now are the highest since the Troubles and you can go back as far as the War of independence to actually get a clearer picture of how high the numbers are in present times. Numbers flotate on a daily basis. But data research from the Department of Justice, if you can actually believe them, will tell you on a technical basis that numbers have exceeded over 6,500 + in some weeks of the year. These numbers are a reflection on Society as a whole. I will state clearly and categorically that certain prisoners must be contained for the safety of the public i.e. crimes like murder, rape, extortion, drug related and gangland. Sadly the numbers on these crimes only make up around 40% of the total prison numbers. Today, I would like to ask, as I have down the years - Do we really feel it is necessary to put people into prison for parking fines, dog licenses, barring orders, and small debts? I say it is wrong.

The cost to the Irish taxpayer is approximately 95,000 e. p.a. to keep one prisoner locked up. How do we change this? Is it environmental? Is it certain areas as John Lonergan, former governor, keeps spouting out i.e. inner city Dublin/third generation/same families who end up in Mountjoy. The same for Cork, Waterford, Galway and Clare. We now have more research completed in relation to prisons in Ireland. This has cost the Irish taxpayer multiple millions yet I ask again why are the numbers the highest now than those ever seen before.

Penal Reform in this country is run under the auspices of Charity/Non profit organisations. Its main financier is Chuck Feeney Atlantic Philantropics yet it has not shown any leadership or motivation to change the conditions of prisoners which are stark and draconian, particularly in Mountjoy and Cork. I believe there isn't one ex prisoner involved in any research relating to Irish penal reform. I again ask the question why? Education is a way forward. Moyross & Southill in Limerick is a perfect example of how people are totally alienated by society and this is why they have a deep contempt for the system. I would only wish we could see people who have been through the penal system given a voice in relation to a way forward and especially in relation to how penal reform is operating in this country.

Brian Flannery

author by ex-prisoner.publication date Tue Jun 21, 2011 16:39Report this post to the editors

the screws could change all this. if they cared.but i dont believe they do. some might but as a whole,they dont. they'll protest about their own pay but they do nothing for the prisoners. the screws could force the issue.so why dont they?

author by Sean Holmes - Prisoners Rights Orgpublication date Fri Jun 24, 2011 13:11Report this post to the editors

Prisons in Ireland are directly run by the headless figures in the Department of Justice, now of course, under the auspices of Minister Shatter who also holds a portfolio as Defence Minister. This double jobbing is not helping the focus on improving the conditions of prisoners on this Island, especially Cork and Mountjoy. Getting back to Brian Flannery's point about the increase in prison numbers: I totally agree. We need to stop putting the ordinary people into prison for debts and personally I don't believe that in any democratic society, a debt is a crime unless the money is taken in a fraudulent manner. I also in my experiences in helping people down the years at Castlerea prison in Roscommon that the cost of putting anybody in prison for a small debt is high on the taxpayer & also don't forget the families of these people are also being sentenced on the outside.

I will close by saying IPRT is not focused on prisoners as it should be. It is too much involved with the Department of Justice and image. It is also not as impartial as it should be. Penal Reform should mean REFORM. The last 35 years our prisons have worsened to the point where I believe last night 7 prisoners shared a cell in Mountjoy which means 7 piss pots. Imagine the lack of hygiene/MRSA and the lack of humanity towards fellow human beings.

Sean Holmes

author by John Moran - Unemployed Castlebarpublication date Sat Jun 25, 2011 15:45Report this post to the editors

I have worked all my life for 34 years, paid my taxes, and never took a cent off the State since I left College at the age of 18. In the last 2 years my family business went to the wall. I don't want to go into the details for the moment. I went to Court two years ago under Judge Devins and I owed a debt of 5,200 e. to AIB who now are owned by the Irish taxpayer. I refused point blank to pay it. After 9 appearances in the district court in Castlebar, Judge Devins one morning began shouting at me and I felt I had the right to speak and I kept on speaking. Eventually I was led down the stairs for contempt. At 2 p.m. I was brought back up to apologise. I asked for What? Then she really lost her wig and told me a night in Castlerea would do me the world of good. I was taken to Castlebar Garda station where I remained until 7 p.m. in a cell. I was treated fairly and fed. Then I was taken in handcuffs with two Gardai into a taxi and driven to Castlerea prison. On the way up in the taxi, one young Garda loudly and with no shame said to me: 'this bit of overtime will pay for my holidays'. I have no doubt he did not mean to offend me but here I was, an Irish citizen, who paid my taxes for over 30 years and not allowed speak or give my side of the story before the Irish courts.

The prison cell was absolutely filthy and at around 9.30 p.m. when they realised they had no beds and were overcrowded I was taken back to Castlebar Garda station by 2 prison warders and they stayed with me in the station for the night because I was technically in prison. This cost to the Irish taxpayer is a crime in itself. I eventually, the following day, was given my Freedom by Her Higness Devins and I still have the bill and AIB sent me a letter yet again last week telling me they can seek a committal warrant. I thought these days were over. Why? the above postings ask the question why our prisons are so full. Well I hope I have given a small answer to the equation. I did not deserve the treatment and in the same town there are 3 developers who owe between them approx 110 m. They have not seen the inside of a cell. I ask and I never thought at my age I would have to ask - Do we live in a democracy.

John Moran

author by Eddie Staunton - Unemployed Rooferpublication date Sun Jun 26, 2011 14:17Report this post to the editors

I totally sympatise with you John and I feel the system at the moment in the courts like everything else in this country is for the 1% privileged only. Presently, I am not getting a cent off the State and I have been in Castlerea prison for 14 days before Christmas for non payment of a loan of 11,000 e. I will admit it has been going on for 3 years with AIB but I tried to explain to the same Judge to no avail. The first 5 days in prison I was kept in a cell with 4 more prisoners and the smell of urine was appalling. I tried to see a doctor to explain that I was on certain medications and I was told bluntly that you are not doing a long sentence so you can linger on until your release and go to a doctor then. I agree with the above postings. How come not one of the people who owe billions has seen the inside of cell full of piss yet. The prisons are absolutely in appalling conditions and recently I tried to get in contact with Penal Reform since my release and I was told they don't deal with individuals and to go to the nearest Citizens Advice Bureau - I find this hard to swallow and I today am a bitter man. Like you John I have worked for over 25 years and have not taken a cent from the Irish State and have paid my taxes.

Eddie Staunton

author by Diarmuid Breatnach - Personal Capacitypublication date Sun Jun 26, 2011 21:12Report this post to the editors

It seems to me that people particularly interested in prison reformer, both ex-prisoners and not, need to get together to work on this. I can't see it changing otherwise, this side of a revolution (which might be a long way off!).

author by Aidan Gogarty - Personal Capacitypublication date Mon Jun 27, 2011 15:35Report this post to the editors

I agree totally with you Diarmuid. To change the conditions & I mean the appalling conditions of Irish prisons any organisation, may it be Irish Penal Reform Trust, Calypso, or others they need to bring on board ex prisoners to get a proper insight into how to change the system for the betterment of people. I mean you can't have a meeting on the abuse of alcohol if you only have in attendance 6 pioneers. At the moment in Mountjoy the new Governor has installed a shield of silence. Prisoners are being locked down for 23 hours per day i.e. 1 hr for exercise only. Some cells have 7 prisoners in makeshift beds. Can somebody explain to me how this rehabilitates people? I put the question today: People in High Places are drawing down large salaries/pensions on the pretense of working for the betterment of prisoners and prisons. I don't believe this. All you have to do is look back 30 years to Cork prison and Mountjoy and the facts clearly state that conditions are a lot worse.

Also it is tragic to read some of the above postings about people being caged for small debts while the bankers and the developers and the other corrupt bastards play their golf on the best golf courses on the Island. This has to fucking stop.

Aidan Gogarty

author by Shane McCann - Unemployed solicitorpublication date Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:30Report this post to the editors

I have read with interest the above postings and as an unemployed solicitors in late 30's I have seen the discrimination between clients on the free legal aid system and the other elite clients who can afford with cash the best legal representations the firm can provide. I lost my job mid 2010 because the firm had to wind down according to them. Simply I did not go along with the inner protocol of treating clients in any different manner may they be on free legal aid or clients who pay. I suppose it is the same difference as between public and private health provision. I have been in prisons in my tenure as a solicitor and I have seen some of my clients coming out on a legal visit telling me that they haven't had a shower or wash in 10 days. Some of my clients were locked up for 22 hrs daily and this to me creates within them anger, resentment and above all, a contempt for society.

I agree with Brian Flannery - there is a deep selective core of Selective Justice. We need a complete overhaul and this means take the power away from the headless figures in the Department of Justice. It needs to be cleaned out urgently and so does the DPP. Prisons in my opinion for people in for minor offences is not the answer because is it a just society that puts a man or woman or child behind High walls for offences that can be treated by community service or some other form of restorative justice programme. I have listened to Irish Penal Reform over the last three years. I read their tweets....I have attended their seminars....and yet I don't see one ex-prisoner being allowed speak on his experiences and going through the system. I totally agree with the above posting. We need ex prisoners involved and as Diarmuid Breanach has said - it is getting people to form some kind of a small organisation i.e. ex-prisoners & others who have experience in this field and for them to sit down and create some new approach as to where the prisons are failing the prisoners and society in general.

Shane McCann

author by ex prisonerpublication date Thu Jun 30, 2011 00:34Report this post to the editors

i spent 2 months in cork prison.
slopped out everyday,slept on shitty mattress that could easily give you long term back trouble if you were there long term. i met people who were in for child maintainence payments,fines etc,funnily enough didnt come across any guards who beat people up,or bankers who destroyed the country in there?

the place is a sess pit. wasnt much heroin when i was there but by all accounts the place is awash with it now. i witnessed screws and that prick of a doctor give out 'calmers' to a lot of people,when i went up to see about getting a neurofen one day for a cold i was told no,cos it had paracetemol in it! i remember seeing how they treated 'pat the picket' allen and how they didnt give him all his proper medication,the doctor in that prison(ask anyone who has been in there) is considered one of the biggest assholes in there. they keep a lid on cork prison,but i cant figure out how.

i dont believe i ever heard of the irish penal reform trust while i was in there,i remember hearing a screw make a smart comment about my mother having cancer though!
the irish penal reform trust? can anyone tell me what they actually do? do they really exist? or are they just a pile of acedemic wankers who never saw the inside of a squad car let alone a prison!
a lot of talk at the moment about overcrowding in some prisons and 400 places vacant in portlaoise,not sure how true the later is.who knows maybe they're preparing for a reintroduction of internment.

the screws are the ones who hold the key to all of this,no pun intended! they are the ones who could change things by indusrial action.the screws run the gaols.

ps. spare a thought for all the prisoners being beaten, tortured,forcibly strip-searched,humiliated,subjected to sectarian aggression on a daily basis in MAGHABERRY(i thought i had it bad)

author by Sean - ex prisoner Corkpublication date Thu Jun 30, 2011 16:20Report this post to the editors

I made a mistake. I drove home, was breathalysed and was just over the limit. My next mistake was not my own. I appeared before Judge Patwell who has just retired last month. My only previous conviction was a minor assault in a pub 9 years ago. He gave me two months. I had two young children at the time. Patwell refused leave to appeal and he himself has 9 children. I went in to Cork prison on a Thursday evening in the summer of 2007. I was put into a cell with two other prisoners. 1 lad was from Dublin, the other from Limerick. It was hell on earth. At night time, the screws would come around, not to check if you were dead or alive but to bang the doors just to annoy you. I as the previous poster above have never heard of Irish Penal Reform Trust and if they do exist I would like to ask them why is Cork prison in such poor conditions and unsuitable for human habitation. As I type this, Cork today is overcrowded by at least 100+ prisoners which means cells are three/four man. This is a total disgrace. The smell of urine in the mornings would bring a jackass to his knees. Dr. Murphy had no empathy towards me good bad or indifferent. I thought because I knew him on the outside I would get a little bit of respect but no. I asked for some sleeping tablets - he told me to read the Bible. I must find out more about this Penal Reform crowd and I thank Brian Flannery for bringing this prison issue to the fore on Indymedia.

Sean

author by Eddie Brazil - former Letterfrack & Mountjoypublication date Fri Jul 01, 2011 16:01Report this post to the editors

I spent 7 years in institutions as a child. I blocked these memories out. In my teens when I got out I tried to find a way out of those memories. I worked on building sites from Camden town to Glasgow. I came back in 1984, got married, divorced and have two grown up sons. Just 3 years ago I took a chance - I couldn't afford insurance and drove a car for 3 months. I got caught and was up before Dublin District Court - I refused to pay the fine of 800 e. Last Feb. I got 2 months in Mountjoy. I had not been in Mountjoy since 1978 and it didn't change one iota. The only change is the front of the building and you enter through the side entrance now. Inside the 4 landings ABCD & the spiral stairs are still there. The smell of piss & the rest in worse than it ever was. My first two nights I spent in a large cell with 7 other prisoners. That makes 8 piss pots. I lad on the second night got the runs & the screws would not open the door to give him access to the main toilet. You can imagine the smell we tried to sleep in.

I have heard of Penal Reform: can somebody explain to me what 'Reform'? Who are these people that stand on a moral pedestal and tell people like me and my 5 other brothers who did time in Letterfrack, St. Patrick's Institution & Mountjoy in the 60's & 70's that there is positive and good changes for all prisoners. This is bullshit. Who runs IPRT? Is it a bunch of lawyers on big salaries doing pro bona work? Last week a friend of mine got a letter off some group under the name IPRT & they said they were delighted to have 48 prisoners on their books. Out of how many is the question? Over 4,000! Is this some kind of sick joke? There are youngsters today 16 years old locked up 23 hrs per day....children, now what has changed since the bleedin 60's. Nothing. So please I say to people who run this IPRT to wake up and start doing their job properly. The only thing I can say that is positive - I learned how to read and write and use the PC in a centre run by a nun at night in the inner city. The rest of the system is complete shite and against the ordinary man.

Eddie

author by Eoin Cronin - Justice Dublin basedpublication date Wed Jul 06, 2011 14:40Report this post to the editors

My first and hopefully my last experience in prison was doing a three month sentence for a small debt to Irish Nationwide before the banking collapse. I spent 3 weeks in a 4 man cell. It was hell and I mean sometimes I would try and pretend the smell was not there. After the three weeks I was given a 2 man cell and a job on the grounds which was called the Bomb Squad. Every morning 3 of us went out and picked up the mystery parcels thrown out the window from the night before. To put this bluntly we picked up shit wrapped in newspapers from the unfortunate prisoners who could not get access to a toilet and had no other choice. This was 12 years ago.

Cork has not changed - it has got a lot worse. Reading the papers last week I came across Cork prison - the numbers at the moment there are 160 prisoners above capacity which the prison ought to hold. This means it is now far worse since my stint at the jail. Like the above postings I have never heard of Penal Reform Trust. The other day I checked out their website and all that came up was a bunch of fucking so called academics, lawyers, barristers, and it is run by charity donations and fundraisers. It claims credibility for having 40 prisoners on its books. Can someone explain how you could praise this sort of PR spin? 40 prisoners out of a total countrywide of nearly 4,000 +. What the fuck is going on? As Mr. Breathnach said above, people need to sit down with those who have the experience i.e. ex prisoners and take a long look at the Department of Justice, the prison service, and now the so called Penal Reform to see if they are all under the one umbrella and what I mean by this is : cronyism.

Eoin Cronin

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Sat Jul 09, 2011 13:41Report this post to the editors

Reading the above postings the common denominator obviously is that our prisons are in tatters and nobody seems to be accountable. At the moment prison numbers are at an all time high ie in the region of 4,000+. This can fluctuate on a daily basis. Mountjoy and Cork are the two worst prisons in relation to overcrowding and conditions, and breach human rights. A recent report completed by an EU delegation who came to Ireland last March stated categorically that these prisons should be closed down eventually and with a sense of urgency. The report also criticised the consecutive governments who over lorded these prisons since the foundation of this State. You cannot expect any human being to leave a prison after spending 3 months to 6 months for a small debt or some silly charge without feeling a sense of anger and betrayal. 25% of the overall numbers are now consistent with various figures coming from the Department of Justice and other agencies and it states clearly that this % is of people who are in for small debts, parking fine and barring orders.

I ask today: What are Probation services doing in relation to this? What I mean is: Probation services are not unlike the HSE - they have created their own self status and importance which is not for the betterment of prisoners. I also want to add that Irish Penal Reform Trust are made up of numerous academics which have no experience and no knowledge in relation to prisons. Yet, I know two who draw down salaries exceeding 140,000 e. annually. Again, when you check the sources of the salaries, it comes under the umbrella of Charities and Donations. I find this disturbing and also 95% of prisoners have never heard or engaged in this Penal Reform. This means that their brochures and their seminars are not getting through. Today I also want to mention the conditions at Maghaberry prison in Belfast and I want to state that Penal Reform Trust have a responsibility towards these prisoners also.

Brian Flannery

author by alpublication date Mon Jul 18, 2011 01:04Report this post to the editors

Those that are in custody for breaching barring orders have failed or refused to desist from terrorising their wives, partners and/ or children. Im truly baffled as to how people can consider these people unworthy of being put in jail. Should we continue to lament domestic violence while allowing those that commit it to continue?

And I would very much like some proof suporting the above statements claiming 25% of prisoners are there for parking tickets considering theres no allowance in law for a person to be sent to jail for a parking ticket, none whatsover, its just cannot happen. perhaps people confuse parking tickets with fines for cirminal acts? ie people who rob, steal and assault other innocent human beings are given a chance to avoid jail by paying a fine but choose not to. Why would you choose jail over a fine? Because a sentence of 1 month equals mere days in custody followed by early release.

Im willing to bet that the same people lamenting people being placed in jail are the same people that will cry foul when the government agencies fail to deal with paedophile priests and other assorted dangers to society.

Wake up, jail isnt to give criminals a bit of a breather between crimes, its to keep them away from innocent people in the hope that we might enjoy a break from our homes being ransacked, our lives being threatened, women being raped and partners and children from being beaten!

author by Serfpublication date Mon Jul 18, 2011 03:06Report this post to the editors

Actually most people end up in jail for petty drug related offences. These people need social workers not custodial jail sentences. they are a danger to themselves mostly, not to others.

al:"Those that are in custody for breaching barring orders have failed or refused to desist from terrorising their wives, partners and/ or children. Im truly baffled as to how people can consider these people unworthy of being put in jail. Should we continue to lament domestic violence while allowing those that commit it to continue?"

No we shouldn't but since we have limited expensive prison places, we should reserve them for people who are genuinely a real danger to society such as murderers, rapists, armed robbers, financial terrorists, paedophile priests or crooked politicians. As for the people breaking barring orders, it is just not practical to put them all in jail. After all, this is not america where prisons are run for profit. No, we should give them some gruelling community service and anger management classes, that way they might improve their self control and do some good in society

al:"And I would very much like some proof suporting the above statements claiming 25% of prisoners are there for parking tickets considering theres no allowance in law for a person to be sent to jail for a parking ticket, none whatsover, its just cannot happen."

I wouldn't be that certain unless you are a judge! For example, what about non payment of tv licences? There were certainly some of those put in jail. And if you can go to jail for not paying your tv licence, why can't you go to jail for non payment of parking fines? whats the difference?

al:"Im willing to bet that the same people lamenting people being placed in jail are the same people that will cry foul when the government agencies fail to deal with paedophile priests and other assorted dangers to society."

nobody is lamenting people being placed in jail. Just the fact that the WRONG people are being put in jail. Petty criminals should come a long way down the waiting list after those who represent a genuine threat to society such as murderers, rapists and armed robbers and known gangland criminals.
And yes I agree, paedophile priests are among those that SHOULD be put in jail. Along with the golden circle of financial terrorists and their corrupt government accomplices. They have caused untold suffering and deaths due to the damage they have caused to our health services and social programs.

al:"Wake up, jail isnt to give criminals a bit of a breather between crimes, its to keep them away from innocent people in the hope that we might enjoy a break from our homes being ransacked, our lives being threatened, women being raped and partners and children from being beaten!"

I agree. It exists to deny dangerous people their liberty, not anything else, just, as the court has sentenced them to, "denial of liberty".

but the fact remains that many people currently in prison don't actually do most of that stuff. Just petty crime to feed drug habits or non payment of fines etc. What often lies at the root of these kinds of things are basic social problems or just plain poverty or in some cases, educational disabilities etc or some mild forms of mental illness.

And in any case, prisons should be humane places in what is supposed to be a first world country. (yeah right!)

All too often we try to ignore the reality of a custodial sentence.
The punishment given by a courtroom is "denial of liberty",
It is not "fear of disease" or "becoming addicted to drugs", "contracting aids" or "prison rape and violence"
Yet it is fear of these unspoken punishments that underlie the threat of a prison sentence, not "denial of liberty" that is the real reason most people submit to all kinds of nonsense bureaucracy in society which threaten prison. And the state likes it this way.
However, ethical it is certainly not.

Prisons should be for the sole purpose of "denial of liberty", which is the actual sentence.
they should be reserved as a last resort for people who represent a real danger to society such as rapists, murderers, armed robbers or sociopaths such as paedo priests, banksters, crooked politicians, financial terorists etc who cannot otherwise be helped by social programs (to get them off drugs, treat mental disorders, counselling etc) or punished in socially useful ways that will help them change their ways.

However, I am open to creative punishments for certain classes of public figure criminal such as the aforementioned banksters, crooked politicians, and financial terrorists. Maybe a regular spell in the public stocks would save the exchequer some money in some cases for example. And as for some classes of financial terrorists who cause mass financial destruction costing billions by signing away the futures of our children, well maybe even hanging is too good for those sociopaths.

author by alpublication date Tue Jul 19, 2011 01:25Report this post to the editors

Thats one of the more sensible replies I have read in a long long time. Three points however:

A, barring orders are more commonly for violence. The fact its against a loved one is worse than a random assault in my opinion but regardless, its a violent crime and I personally think they are far more fitting for jail that a banker who has committed a non violent crime. The same goes for 'financial terrorists' as you call them, as no criminal section exists I can only assume you mean politicians, developers, etc. Again, non violent. Perhaps they do need to be sent to jail but if no space exists then should we not build more rather than allow criminals walk free?

B, A non payment of a TV license is a separate offence to a parking ticket. Its not hard to check these facts and the sentences they can carry but as I am not the one making the assertion its not for me to prove. In fact, can anyone back up the 25% claim made above? I'm very dubious of that claim.

C, TV licenses. Actually the offence carries a fine and only a fine, no sentence is allowable under the law (Section 148 Broadcasting act 2009) however if people are being sent to jail its for contempt of court ie not paying the fine they are given. I agree that prison hardly seems fair but in reality, if someone is given a fine and they then refuse to pay it, whats to be done? Its not a problem exclusive to TV licenses (I would argue that needing a license itself should be a crime) but look at people who drink drive. The penalty dished out is a disqualification. Whats the penalty for driving while disqualified? A longer disqualification and so on until you have no choice but jail people. You can only allow so many chances.

author by alpublication date Tue Jul 19, 2011 01:28Report this post to the editors

Sorry I should have added that very few people are in jail for minor drug offences such as simple possession. Addicts however are the cause of many many violent crimes from burglary to muggings, robbery, thefts and onwards. The fact that its a self inflicted addiction does nothing to gain pity from me in modern times. 20 or 30 years ago yes as it was an unknown scourge but now the risks are well known.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Tue Jul 19, 2011 14:20Report this post to the editors

First I want to commend the above postings for their indepthness on crime and their points of view are most interesting and diverse.

The first point I want to clarify is the numbers or may I say % of prisoners who are imprisoned from our district courts which is the biggest provider of bodies to our prisons. I mentioned 25%. I am not exact on this number but I will outline some statistics on this.

Prison numbers change on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. According to Dept of Justice figures it is known that you can have up to 100 prisoners plus in Mountjoy in any given week doing sentences ranging from 7 days to 1 month. These people are put in for non payment of small debts and I will repeat parking fines. Now the people that go in for parking fines would have amassed a number of fines probably over 100 fines in one year and these would be not paid. Reasons can be - unable to afford/ or they blatantly refuse to pay. Barring Orders are another issue in our district courts and ironically 99% of men are imprisoned for breaking barring orders whereas it is rare, almost non existent to see a woman imprisoned for breaking one. The numbers as I said change on a daily basis and this 25% that I mentioned after some days would get temporary release but the fact remains they still go through the penal system and are costing the Irish taxpayer a small fortune. Now especially in a deep recession we should examine how our district courts are not changing their sentencing policies for petty crimes. Let's not though get off the main point here. The conditions of our prisons are now the worst in over 40 years. Overcrowding in Mountjoy & Cork, Castlerea & Limerick are at an all time high and it is only a matter of time before there is spread of disease, even MRSA. I again make the point who are Irish Penal Reform Trust. My research informs me that they are a NPO/Charitable based organisation funded by Atlantic Philantropics (Chuck Feeney). Some of these people draw down salaries in excess of 130,000 e. annually. I find this a total disgrace because 95% of prisoners don't even know they exist. We need urgent change and we need people who know the workings of the penal system to sit down and try and strategically plan that will save the tax payer money.

Brian Flannery

author by Serfpublication date Sat Jul 23, 2011 17:20Report this post to the editors

"Sorry I should have added that very few people are in jail for minor drug offences such as simple possession. Addicts however are the cause of many many violent crimes from burglary to muggings, robbery, thefts and onwards. The fact that its a self inflicted addiction does nothing to gain pity from me in modern times. 20 or 30 years ago yes as it was an unknown scourge but now the risks are well known."

so going somewhat by your logic, the risks are well known so people are well informed and so should be left to make their own minds up as to whether to take drugs or not. So they should be allowed to choose for themselves and accordingly society should legalise the use of hard drugs.

And maybe society, to protect itself and reduce its costs, should consider providing cost price or even free drugs to addicts so they are not stealing to pay for expensive drugs bought from gangland drug suppliers and injecting god knows what contaminated sludge into their veins thus creating costs for the health services. State drugs would be of guaranteed purity and concentration thus reducing risk greatly.

This strategy would save money on prison spaces, enforcement costs for the gardai (on our current daft and exhorbitant failed strategy which would no longer be necessary), health board costs in treating the results of dirty needles, overdoses and contaminated street drugs, and it would put drug barons out of business since there would no longer be any huge illegal profits to be made thus making our community much safer.

And after all, little johnny from D4 would be better off buying his stash off the local chemist rather than the local drug thug wouldn't he? No nasty blot on his CV if caught either. Better all round really.

If you acknowledge that people should have freewill and have the ability to choose whether to take drugs or not and should take personal responsibility for that choice then you should see the logic in my proposals. The savings to the state over the current failed drug enforcement policies would be enormous not to mention the enormous tourist potential!

So lets legalise all drugs here. Do something logical for once. Are you with me Al?

author by brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:50Report this post to the editors

The prison population presently in out of control and the Dept of Justice is losing the plot completely. Last week in Mountjoy 12 prisoners were locked in a cell for 23 hours with 1 hour exercise in the prison yard The tensions are high and it is only a matter of time before a serious riot flares up. District courts can play a vital role in keeping numbers at a reasonable level. What is the point in dending small debtors to prison or minor offences/ None. The Irish Penal Reform had their AGM 2 WEEKS AGO NOT A SINGLE EX PRISONER WAS ASKED TO ATTEND Why i ask again and again. Academics only this is not reform it is the old boys school again


.Brian Flannery


 

author by Shane Mc Cann - Unemployed Solictorpublication date Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:39Report this post to the editors

I notice in the Itish Times today Alan Shatter is going to release over 200 short term prisoners to try and end the pressure of overcrowding in our prisons. This is only a short term solution to a much bigger problem and already we have 750 prisoners out on temporary release. We need urgent changes in prison reform and this is not happening, short term solutions cause more problems in the long run. I attended 3 weeks ago the AGM or irish penal reform trust not one exprisoner present this is nonsense and a room full of so called academics wont solve the prison crisis. We need a collective approach urgently.


Shane Mc Cann

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Mon Oct 03, 2011 14:06Report this post to the editors

Alan Shatter in the last two weeks has clearly stated that Thornton Hall is not going ahead for the foreseeable future. This means Mountjoy remains as is and that means overcrowding, draconian conditions and all aspects of the European Report on Human Rights will be totally disregarded in its entirety. Sometime ago on Morning Ireland the same Mr. Shatter stated that he was urgently reviewing people going to prison for small debts and this would be urgently changed in the format that people would pay their fines in some type of instalments. Watching Prime Time last Monday night disgusted people across the length and breadth of this country witnessing young mothers being taken to prison by Gardai for non payment of h/h utility bills and others for small fines was a disgrace and brings shame to this new government in the present political climate. I don't want to bring up the old sayings again - Not a Banker or Developer or any of 1% elite that brought this Nation to its knees are behind the walls. Sadly this is Fact.

Two weeks ago the so-called Irish Penal Reform Fan Club had its AGM at Blackhall Place. This location speaks dividends of how detached this organisation is from prisoners and ordinary Irish people. The AGM was addressed by Shatter and retired High Court Judge Ms. Catherine McGuinness backed up by Professor of Law, Mary Rogan UCC and other so called Prada handbag academics. Questions I believe were asked from the floor and Shatter gave a small speech about how great everybody was to attend on the wet evening involved. The pathetic point sadly I make is: Not one former prisoner was asked to attend this meeting. Can somebody explain this to me? Can you actually have an AA meeting with the alcoholic input. I believe some members at the moment of the socialist party are asking some serious questions as to who funds this Penal Reform Trust and how can Liam Herrick actually stand over a salary which is approx £168,000 p.a. +. I don't agree with this Penal Reform or its members who have never seen the back of a squad car never mind the inside of a prison cell. The above postings speak dividends as to how people with no voice are treated in this country and I today thank Indymedia for allowing me to highlight my concerns in relation to Irish prisons and I also call on the Left in Dail Eireann to ask Shatter some serious questions also. Let us not forget that the Mad Mullah McDowell with taxpayers money spent £37 million on a piece of land called Thornton Hall and today's valuation, it would not even fetch 500,000. Tragic, Pathetic but Fact.

Brian Flannery

author by shane mc Cann - part time solictorpublication date Fri Oct 21, 2011 13:14Report this post to the editors

I totally agree with you Brian changes are overdue in Penal reform or should I say   non reform          
I asked to attend the Agm OF iRISH PENAL REFORM but my face did not meet the so called academic criteria so I now realize this group is a private club. You have to adhere to their beliefs
not how you feel in changing the Penal system.We need to get a collective body set up to ask serious questions to Liam Herrick penal reform urgently. Not one ex prisoner at the Agm this alone speaks volumes.
Shane

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Fri Oct 21, 2011 14:36Report this post to the editors

penal reform is only half the gig.

Poverty creates crime. Our economic system with its brakeless pursuit of personal and corporate personal(companies have 'legal personality',+get-out clause of limited liability)wealth automatically creates counter sumps of poverty, to be relieved by emigration, 'growth'(see Richard Douthwaite, 'The growth Illusion')and expansionary imperial exploitation currently steamrolling North Africa.. and all points east. Crime results, hence the US, with greatest gap between rich and poor, has greatest prison population(over 2million, mostly black americans(coincidence?).

Mc Dowell. Now THERE is a white collar thug. Wonder he's not president yet. They'll be pumping the powders to keep thekids fucked up and strung out rather than organising. Its not accidental, any more than a the original opium wars.

author by Country Boypublication date Fri Oct 21, 2011 16:23Report this post to the editors

Why is there a problem in Irish Prisons - they are full of ciminals thats why.

Lets start with a mandatory death sentence for murder and rape and organized crime (assuming you can't get a presidential nomination) - probably half the prison population.

Real enforcemnt of discipline (ala Sheriff Joe of Maricopa County) one meal a day, get rid of TVs, playstations etc.

Implement chain gangs, they'll be too tired too whinge after a real days hard labour. Then make them read Opus Diablos posts.  If that dont convince them to mend their ways then they're lost causes.

I have sympathy for the victims of crime not the offenders.

Prison is supposed to be a deterrent not a rest for a few months before you're out and offending again.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Fri Oct 21, 2011 20:05Report this post to the editors

I'll second that inhumane and degrading punishment....except that having read my bullshit you're still hopelessly incorrigible.

Sympathy for the victims is fine and admirable, and as a several times victim, apprreciado.. but it dont butter parsnips.

My case would be, and I welcome your argument, that the task is the reduction of crime, and that the petty criminal not be hung as scapegoat so the white-collar gangster laughs all the way to his offshore bank(and I'm not talking Porcupine).

think it through though, the reason prison dont work as deterent is because we fuck them into the same streets, no rehab worth mentioning, many with psychological problems, and no chance of a job to maybe legally get the wealth they see all round, stroking away immune, and as the man said, when you've nothing to loose....

Think about it. Feels nice to claim the high moral ground, but it wont reduce crime.

Evidence?Since the economioc collapse(organised white crime, not fucking weather)suicide, prostitution and crime generally have risen 40% in Greece. Check yourself, dont take my bullshit. If my figures are wrong, it wont prove to by a much.
I dont know your sheriff, but america is a poor example of a healthy society crimewise. Crime has all sorts of inputs, generational culture included(you'll probably accept at least that)judicial murder kills more innocents that it deters homicides.



author by Country Boypublication date Fri Oct 21, 2011 20:46Report this post to the editors

Not saying those b..tards should be let get away with it either (perhaps a penal colony picking sugar cane or cotton in the dead heat for them?).  My blood boils when I see the likes Drumm or Seanie giving us the fingers.

Crimes against the person GBH etc., we're way too lax in that dept.  My elderly parents in a rural village were robbed of a few euros last winter and what does his Honour do, look for a probation report cos they are junkies and alcos!

BTW I like some of your contributions and reading them keeps me at home out of harms way!

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County Arizona may be a little right of centre for you, but have a glance anyway for the curiosity value.

http://www.sheriffjoe.org/component/content/article/81.html

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Fri Oct 21, 2011 21:12Report this post to the editors

.. I know the anger...I've come close to homicide a few times..but we have to think it through..I'll check that manana.. long day at the shaggin typeface..pint time..take care.

And Im all for making the punishment fit the crime...but revenge, while a sweet dish best eaten cold.. sours the deliverer and seldom solves the problem more than temporarily.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Sun Oct 23, 2011 13:34Report this post to the editors

I would like to first respond to Countryboy.  Your anger I think is a little bit imbalanced with due respect to you.  You can't mark all prisoners as all bad - people are entitled to a second chance and all human beings are entitled by the charter of European Human Rights to have basic humane conditions while serving a sentence. I am glad you did mention the Banker Gangsters and the rest that are not before the courts not even one of them at present.

Now if you read some of the above postings Countryboy you will see people like small debtors down to a miserly 2,000 being taken away by taxis in the company of 2 Gardai and the cost to the Irish taxpayer is enormous.  Our prisons are in tatters and I can assure you it is not on the priority list of Alan Shatter to improve any part of the problem.  Now the Minister has a major problem: 45 prison staff have contacted TB and one is seriously ill in hospital.  I warned about this some years ago but sadly I got no response from any department and this includes the Irish Penal Reform Trust.


Brian Flannery

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Sun Oct 23, 2011 14:37Report this post to the editors

..that sheriff...and his 'correctional facilities'

Methinks its the penal and legal systems that need correction first. But the sheriff is makinga nice income and career from parasiting on the crime of poverty, exclusion, and racial discrimination..to say nothing of the WASP class system inherited from Britannia. But then, we got that here too. No hungry judges', guards', or wardens' kids.

Here's one I prepared earlier..seems aappropriate again, for some reason..Some of the references date it..

A SONG FOR YOUR ROPE

Sellafield or Windscale,
PD or Fine Fail
Emigrate or go to gaol,
All kinds of oil slicks
Remind me of you

Angel-dust and tractor wheels,
Granard squint or inside deals,
Mountjoy Gaol as the mice do squeal
All around Lord Kinseale
Remind me of you

Euro-fuzz and Newspeak too
Flexi-milk ,beef-mountain stew
Mobile phoneys and the odd bleak queue
All kids of EUphemism
Remind me of you

Flashy steals and telescams
Expense accounted acronyms
Papal bull and bishopricks
Coffin planes and dirty tricks
M.I.nearly five to six
Bedroom windows made of bricks
Euro-fighters from the Prussian blue
Tom and Jerry mander too
All kinds of blind spots
Remind me of you

Refugees and platitudes
Electron guns and cathode tubes
Setaside and headage strokes
Gombeen men in emerald cloaks
Slop-out pails and well-fed screws
All kinds of Tammany dues
Including your well-managed news
All kinds of crude spills
Remind me of you.

That was just before me last emigration..kept me from homicidin'

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Tue Oct 25, 2011 13:56Report this post to the editors

First, I want to applaud Opus for the above poetry; a man of many talents and now I need to ask him a question or any of the other moderators who write regularly on the site.  I can't recall her name but she was famous for helping the underdog, especially prisoners, in her small office or cafe, years ago, somewhere on Lower Baggot Street.  She died approx 18 months ago and she was ahead of her time - I just can't right now get her name into my head.

Anyway maybe somebody can help!

In the meantime, Judge Michael Reilly, at a conference on Human Rights and prisoners last week addressed the meeting under the auspices of Inspector of Prisons.  He mentioned a very important point of law.  When a prisoner misbehaves in prison, the Governor has the right to take away as he calls them on behalf of the establishments that prisoners privileges ie visitors, letters, even the purchase of cigarettes in the prison tuck shop.  Judge Reilly has placed a spanner in the works by stating categorically that the governors are morally wrong.  Privileges is an incorrect term.  Prisoners have a humane right to have visitation, shop, and interaction with the outside world.  Reilly stressed this point time and time again about a human right and not a privilege.  The crisis at the moment in Cork is worsening by the day.  Overcrowding, slopping out, and now the fear among all inside, prisoners & staff, of a TB outbreak that right now is happening in Dublin prisons.  Again.  Where is Herrick and the so called Penal Reform Trust.

Brian Flannery

author by Brian Flannery - Prisons & Injusticepublication date Sat Nov 19, 2011 14:26Report this post to the editors

Yesterday, the report on Irish prisons was shocking, degrading and above all deplorable.

Women standing naked with literally small towels to cover themselves, standing in front of male warders.

Mentally ill prisoners locked up in padded cells which is against the EU charter on Human Rights.

We need reform:

When will we see a banker, developer, accountant, lawyer standing naked and being strip searched.



B. Flannery

author by wageslave - (moderator)publication date Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:44Report this post to the editors

Hi Brian

The name of that lady you were asking about is "Margaret Gaj"

see this article for more info:
https://www.indymedia.ie/article/100094

regards
ws

author by Brian Flannery - Justice and Prisonspublication date Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:51Report this post to the editors



Wageslave

Thank you.  Very interesting woman and info of deep interest.

Reading recent papers and speaking to one humane warder yesterday, he spoke of his disgust of how mentally ill prisoners are being treated in Mountjoy.  Padded cells continue and they call the prisoners the monkeys.

Disgusting behaviour.


B Flannery

author by Shane McCann - Justice and Irish Prisonspublication date Thu Nov 24, 2011 14:08Report this post to the editors

The management of the Mountjoy prison must take full responsibility for the inhuman and degrading treatment of women prisoners, as recently reported in the media.

Transparency has occurred so now let there be action.  Management need to be checked urgently and if necessary dismissals if appropriate should happen.



Shane McCann

author by Philpublication date Fri Nov 25, 2011 04:12Report this post to the editors

Brian Flannery (above) might be able to research in the national library a publication that was sold around Dublin pubs during the late 1970s called Jail Journal. It was put out by the Prisoners Rights Organisation, founded by Margaret Gaj and others in 1973. The organisation dissolved about ten years later after much publcity activity on prison conditions and the rights of prisoners. Nobel Prize winner Sean MacBride SC chaired an unofficial enquiry into the Irish prison system set up in 1979 by the PRO. In the mid-1980s the government of the day yielded to mounting pressure and established the Whittaker enquiry into the prison system, which produced a report. [T.K. Whittaker was responsible for the First Programme for Economic Expansion implemented from 1959 by Taoiseach Sean Lemass.]

Margaret Gaj died around April this year. The cause that she worked for is still around, and it may be time for ex-prisoners and sympathisers to set up a new organisation to campaign on the prison system. I offer just one piece of advice: For the sake of credibility strictly keep party and sectarian left politics out of any organisation that you may set up.

author by Brian Flannery - Justice publication date Sat Nov 26, 2011 15:37Report this post to the editors

Thank you Phil for the most relevant information.

I am searching through websites and cannot find the archive for the 1970 Jail Journal.  Need help here, I think.

I have no party affiliations, focus is equality for the vulnerable.

What actually happened in Mountjoy recently was against the core values of Human Rights.

I ask one question:

Where are the people on large salaries and expenses in Penal Reform on this disgusting regime at present in our prisons.

I call on the likes of Emily Logan and the so called feminist movement to condemn what is going on and to create significant change urgently.


Brian Flannery

author by Philpublication date Sun Nov 27, 2011 01:39Report this post to the editors

Brian, Try the homepage of the National Library of Ireland here:

http://www.nli.ie/en/homepage.aspx

If you click on catalogues and databases, then click on periodicals and magazines, you may reach a listing for Jail Journal. This publication was pamphlet size. It took its title from the prison memoirs of the same title by 19th century fenian activist John Mitchell.

If you have real difficulty in visiting the National Library to consult back issues I suggest that you write to Labour TD Joe Costello (Dublin Central) who was a leading member of the Prisoners Rights Organisation until it dissolved.

I know there is an organisation called the Irish Penal Reform Trust, but its members are probably Respectable People who don't want to associate with former prisoners and picket prisons and government offices. Personally I think credibility and conviction are more important than respectability and official acceptance.

author by Paddy Garry - Unemployedpublication date Tue Nov 29, 2011 15:08Report this post to the editors

I would like to see more of an input by the
District Court  judges using the probation
services instead of just giving out
sentences.

I spent 7 days in Mountjoy last April.
I could not afford 2 yrs of child maintenance
of a judgment made aginst me.  I lost my
job in construction.

It was deplorable sharing a cell with
3 other men.  The smell, dirt, piss pots was
disgusting.  It must be source of infections
and be a cost to Public Health surely.

Prison reform is non existent.

Paddy

author by Brian Flannery - Irish Prisonspublication date Tue Dec 06, 2011 15:17Report this post to the editors

The Budget 2011 has arrived.  The coalitions has shown its true colours. 

I looked up Penal Progressive Reform recently with a view to the unpaid volunteers. 
Yes another sham and it needs investigating.  Recently, for my debtor status sins of 11,500 e,
I spent 10 days in Cork prison.  To try and explain the conditions would be literally impossible.
The cells are the same for 100 years; the smell of urine at night made me feel like puking.
The prison is run brutally with no compassion or with any sense of will to respect another
human being. Need I add: Prison did not pay my debt to the Bank of Scotland!

I would like to ask retired High Court Judge Catherine McGuinness and Mary Rogan DIT what
is Penal Reform?  I ask Liam Herrick how much of a salary he and the likes of him/her are paid?

It is a national disgrace to sully the word REFORM as so many quangos do!


Brian Flannery

author by Brian Flannery - Irish Justicepublication date Sun Jan 08, 2012 14:26Report this post to the editors

I read on Friday Times that 26 juveniles are being held in adult prisons in Dublin. Herrick, Irish Penal Reform Trust, statement inappropriate - I say dangerous for the well being of children. Emily Logan states this should not happen. Alan Shatter will not change conditions. Fact: People who believe vulnerable people should be protected can change this practice. I want to thank Wageslave and others who gave me info ie Prisoners Journal (J Costello). It all helps B Flannery

author by Shane McCann - part-time solicitorpublication date Tue Jan 10, 2012 14:13Report this post to the editors

Brian I endorse all of the above. The other night I was going through some of the salaries paid to people in non profit organisations. I went through the salaries of people in penal reform organisations or may I say non penal reform. Some are on 75,000 and it goes up to 138,000 e annnually. I would like to know who finances these so called elite organisations. I would also ask a further question: how can some people appoint themselves executive directors without any legality or put another way - the permission of the Irish taxpayer. Irish prisons are at breaking point. Assaults occur on a daily basis. At the moment there is an eerie silence at Wheatfield prison and in Cloverhill in relation to the TB outbreak affecting both staff and prisoners. This should be a deep concern for anybody involved regarding human rights. Shane

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Sun Apr 15, 2012 13:40Report this post to the editors

In the last few days I have been studying a proposal by the Irish Prison Service about implementing the tagging of low risk prisoners ie letting prisoners out on temporary release but being tagged. I am slow to endorse this until it is studied a little bit further. I was astonished last Friday - Radio 1 Drivetime to hear Liam Herrick IPRT, a highly paid director of penal reform in Ireland. Herrick stated that it was a positive way forward. I don't agree. First I thought penal reform was focused on the conditions of our prisons and the wellbeing of the prisoners. Tagging may work for sex offenders who are out and it will give the Gardai a better way of monitoring them. At the moment I fail to see the positive side of a young offender out and tagged for a low grade crime but the tag will label him with a serious stigma. We need to take this a stage further and look across the water for answers about how the tagging system is a disaster in some cities and towns in England.

Brian Flannery

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Thu May 10, 2012 13:18Report this post to the editors

The figures are frightening to say the least. Approximately 530 prisoners are under protection in our prisons today.
This is 22 hours lock-down daily for their own safety.
Reasons vary: some have drug debts, then there are gangland feuds, which are the main reason. Then there are those classed as touts. These figures are inclusive to Mountjoy, Wheatfield, Midlands, Portlaoise, Cork and Castlerea.

A mobile phone is worth £1200 in prison now.

Conditions in Cork are getting worse by the day and Shatter needs to act fast.

Brian Flannery

author by Tony Doyle - Equality and Educationpublication date Sat May 12, 2012 15:42Report this post to the editors



I worked in the 1980's in a certain prison as an English and History teacher - 20 hrs weekly. It was an eye opening experience which I will never forget. The conditions were inhumane and some days classes were cancelled due to lack of prison staff.

My view then and now is: Staff drank heavy, morale was/is low, and some warders hated/hate the work. Drugs were/are everywhere and visitors were/are bullied to smuggle in drugs.

Reading the above postings - nothing has changed. I applaud B Flannery in bringing this issue up on Indymedia.

Tony Doyle

author by leftypublication date Sun May 13, 2012 21:40Report this post to the editors

when you are sentenced, you are sentenced to have your liberty taken away for the period the judge decrees.

You are not sentenced to be gang raped in the shower
you are not sentenced to get TB and die
you are not sentenced to sniff sickening excrement smells for the duration.
you are not sentenced to be beaten up or knifed by other prisoners.
you are not sentenced to getting aids and a drug habit.

yet it is these things that constitute the real deterrent of a custodial sentence.

This is what keeps you and I paying our odious debts

Do you honestly think the powers that be want to take away all of these, the REAL but unspoken deterrents and make it easier for us to not pay our odious fines and debts?? I think not. You'll be waiting a long time before FG or any other right wing government fix all these things. They like it this way. It increases their power.

The government will never take real progressive steps to reduce crime because violent criminals serve the interests of power. They give them a great excuse to crack down more on the public, and these criminals make prisons a hell hole and a frightening deterrent to those poorer people tempted not to pay their odious debts/taxes/fines. Nice!

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Fri May 18, 2012 13:35Report this post to the editors

Speaking on phone some days ago to a retired warder at Cork prison he told me of the horrific treatment some prisoners have to endure on a daily basis. He wanted to remain anonymous even though his pension is safe but at least he had the courage to enlighten me further about what is going on behind the walls at Cork prison.

Overcrowding is causing serious trouble. Assaults are now a daily catalogue of events and some prisoners are in isolation in the Block and nobody seems to care about the inhumane conditions they have to endure. He went on to mention Ted Cunningham who had his conviction QUASHED in the High Court last week relating to the Northern Bank robbery. Mr Cunningham spent 9 months in Cork prison suffering from a rare blood condition which results in profuse nose bleeds (gushing). The warder went on to say that this man's cell would be covered in blood at least 3 nights a week. This cell he shared with 2 more prisoners. Mr. Cunningham had to use the piss pot literally to stop the blood from going on the floor. I ask the question: Between the doctor, the Governor, and the Department of Justice how did it take so long to move Mr Cunningham to Limerick where his conditions improved in a small way. I also ask where was the prison chaplain, the probation services, the Inspectorate of Prisons, in relation to the inhumanity suffered not just by Mr. Cunningham alone but others in the same cell who had to endure what was going on.

I also would like to ask where is Mr. Herrick and the so called elite NGO Penal Reform Trust who draw down high salaries under the auspices of Charity. The taxpayer should be aware that we too put at least £500,000 pa into the coffers of penal reform and I would like to know where this money goes ie apart from high salaries?

Brian Flannery

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Wed May 30, 2012 13:23Report this post to the editors

Frank Short, a decent Irish citizen and former Donegal night club owner and publican spent 3 years in an Irish prison cell for nothing. His only crime was his total refusal to pay protection money to rogue Gardai at that time. I say this with the facts behind me - the Morris Tribunal. Reading some extracts of his forthcoming book Frank Short described one inhumane incident in a shared cell at Mountjoy. Frank witnessed the rape of a young prisoner by 2 other inmates. He banged for a full 45 minutes with his piss pot against the cell door and no response. It saddens me to state that when he was released from prison he reported the incident to all the relevant government agencies but to no avail.

Lonergan some time ago sat at the a Irish Penal Reform Trust seminar in the Chester Beatty Library in the company of former High Court Judge Catherine McGuinness and Herrick of the so called IPRT NGO. It is of no surprise that the experience of people like Frank Short and Ted Cunningham and so many others was not spoken about. It annoys me more that you will never hear of an ex-prisoner speak at these elite gatherings. I say it again and I will keep saying it - you cannot have an AA meeting without an alcoholic. IPRT needs to be amalgamated urgently with Civil Liberties or others. Herrick draws down a salary in excess of £120,000 pa and I ask the question - For what? Last week Cork prison was condemned as Inhumane and one of the worst in Europe. There I rest my case.

Brian Flannery

author by Shane McCann - Prison Reformpublication date Sun Jun 10, 2012 14:26Report this post to the editors

Shatter's release scheme is gone underground. He planned 6 weeks ago to release over 300 prisoners doing 3 yrs or less for non violent offences. Looks like we will have to wait and see.

Cloverhill prison has had two outbreaks of MRSA and other bacterial viruses over the last month due no doubt to overcrowding (3 or more men to a cell).

At least Mick Wallace is going to the Euros for the month. Why not?

author by poor personpublication date Sun Jun 10, 2012 15:13Report this post to the editors

yeah. We wouldn't want people in prison for non payment of bills such as household and water charges getting any ideas that they don't have to pay their bills. Who cares about rapists and violent criminals. They don't threaten the ability of the rich to accumulate more wealth. There has to be a penalty for not paying bills. And there has to be a penalty for speaking out and getting involved in activism. So more prison places for bill defaulters. And more prison places for anti war activists and anti shell activists and occupy activists. And in fact lets let the rapists and gangland criminals out on bail to make space for them. And the fact that there are now more violent criminals running around gives us an excuse to beef up the police. Not in places like moy ross you understand. We mean in places like rossport or tearing up the occupy tent in Galway eyre square at 4.30am or dame street at 3am. or doing ridiculous politically motivated police raids on IAWM PRO, Niall farrell's house. Y'know, important poltical and corporate policing. You didn't think we meant bobbies on the beat did you? hah! fat chance of that!

And yeah, lets keep those prisons extra smelly, underfunded and violent as a deterrent.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Tue Oct 30, 2012 14:21Report this post to the editors

The recent damning report into the physical and psychological abuse of youngsters in St. Patrick's detention centre is not a shock to many people. It goes on daily, in prisons all over this country and especially, in Cork Prison.

Judge Reilly, Inspector of Prisons, was shocked at the fear expressed by one boy who was afraid to give the names of those involved in a beating he received at the hands of officers of the State at St. Patrick's institution.

Does the Referendum protect these vulnerable children? Now where is Emily Logan on her £160,000+ annual salary and for that matter Liam Herrick Non Legal Reform and no doubt his comparable salary, expenses and benefits.

There is an immediate need for Garda investigation. Then again, what have we but Corruption investigation its own.

Brian Flannery

author by Tpublication date Tue Oct 30, 2012 22:06Report this post to the editors

The press release for that prisons report thing can be found at the link below.

The title and opening paragraph are:
Minister Shatter publishes Inspector of Prisons Report on St Patrick’s Institution, and Visiting Committee Reports for 2011 for Dóchas Centre, Midlands, Limerick, Shelton Abbey, Training Unit, Castlerea, Loughan House and Portlaoise Prisons

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter TD, today published a report by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, of an inspection of St Patrick’s Institution which was presented to the Minister on 27 June, 2012.

The report raises serious issues and major concerns relating to St Patrick’s Institution. In a wide ranging and comprehensive report, the Inspector has reported that a combination of, inter alia, weak management, the culture in the prison, the inattention to human rights norms, prisoners on protection and prevalence of drugs means that St Patrick’s has not lived up to the mission statement of the Irish Prison Service. He concluded that there has been a culture in St Patrick’s which resulted in the human rights of some prisoners (children and young adults) being either ignored or violated.

Major concerns have been raised in relation to aspects of prison healthcare, education, the use of special cells for safety and close supervision, inadequate record keeping, the use of control and restraint techniques contrary to established guidelines and international best practice. He describes the forcible removing of prisoner’s clothing as degrading and a form of punishment.....


And the report taken from: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Appendix%20A%2005.10.pdf/...0.pdf has been uploaded to this comment

PDF Document Inspector of Prisons Report on St. Patricks Institution (PDF - 283KB). -June 2012. Published Oct 2012 0.28 Mb

Related Link: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR12000283
author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 14:46Report this post to the editors

To treat young boys with brute force and 22 hrs daily lock up is in breach of any human rights. These young men sadly come out full of anger and hold the Gardai and society in general with total contempt. Youngsters need education not oppression and if you give respect you may receive it in return. Shatter needs to reform and act upon Judge Reilly's report with a sense of moral urgency.

Brian Flannery

author by ex prisoner - Debtorpublication date Sat Nov 03, 2012 14:46Report this post to the editors

Reform in Irish prisons is being thrown around by various governments for years. Flannery is right, you must give people a sense of respect to achieve a positive response from any human being especially young juveniles. St Patrick's Institution will remain in operation for at least another 5-7 years.

Penal Reform Trust are a private group (Quango) who spin and feed for information off media outlets and government sources. Liam Herrick is actually Alan Shatter's lackey. It is time for former prisoners to address these Reform meetings - not lecturers, Gardai, Barristers and the elite. We need a complete overhaul. The brutality of vulnerable people continues in Patrick's and especially Cork.

Ex prisoner (debtor)

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:41Report this post to the editors

Some weeks ago in his usual routine in the Dail, Shatter announced he would not be publishing the report written up by Judge Reilly, Inspector of prisons. The report was damning to say the least and as I said before the inhumanity show to youngsters in St Patrick's broke every rule of law in relation to human rights. Some young people are locked up 23 hours a day with one hour for exercise and society asks why these people leave prison angry. In one paragraph of Reilly's report he stated with total clarity how one youngster was pinned to the ground by six warders and had his clothes cut off by two scissors and then he was removed to a padded cell which we know is against EU law in relation to human rights. Shatter will not publish this report because he knows that St Patrick's will not be closing down for at least for another 4 to 5 years and we all know the story of Thornton Hall - it is now rumoured it is going back to farmland.

McDowell before Shatter received £37 million for Shanganagh, the only open prison for juveniles. Where did this money go? I have asked my local TD and various others who have never got answers.

In the meantime Liam Herrick and Non Penal Reform keep up-to-date in media to sustain his grants from taxpayers yet youngsters suffer on a daily basis at St Patricks while other prisoners suffer in other prisons in particular Cork prison. In the last few weeks I have learned of a new sub-committee that is about to sit, headed up by Focus Ireland, Sr Stan and 3 more individuals from various government agencies. This in my opinion is a non starter. Speaking to ex-prisoners in the last 12 months, they have informed me that every time they try to contact Penal Reform and various agencies they are turned away. You can't have an AA meeting without an alcoholic. You need to involve prisoners in Penal Reform.

author by anonymouspublication date Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:46Report this post to the editors

Reading through some of the comments and story,im not suprised there is an outbreak of TB in prisons, the whole justice system, from top to toe, is a complete joke.

With 128 prisoners esacaped from an open low security prison,and garda stations closing,its a wonder we are not out on the streets protesting.

We live in a country where our justice minister alan shatter is defending the closure of many needed rural garda stations,and garda presence.

Where a guy gets six years for importing garlic,and an incest abuser gets 5 months,by the same judge (who by the way hasnt been fired).

This country,and particularly the justice system is a mess..

Better off joining the 87,000 irish who emigrate each year thats if you have the freedom and spare cash to do so..

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:16Report this post to the editors

Tonight on RTE 1 at 9.30 pm a program goes out, 'The truth behind Irish prison walls, and what is really going on.' Tonight's RTE research team, it's alleged have got their hands on CCTV camera footage, and will show some of the serious assaults that are happening in our prisons on a daily basis. I hope tonight that prisoners, current and former, get a voice to air their views in relation to what prison has done for them, and what type of after care they received on their release.

In the last month, I have spoken to about twenty young people homeless on Dublin streets, some trying to get money for a hostel. They have informed me new rules have come in to the hostels which I believe are totally illegal and morally wrong. They are asked questions about their history, whether they have ever had head lice or scabies, whether they've ever been convicted of an offence. These hostels are being paid for by the tax payer and the homeless themselves. Were I to book into a hotel I would be justifiably appalled at such questions.

Some of the homeless fear staying in the hostels, and some become or have been victims of the prison system. I want to ask, who gave the authority to the hostel regime to ask of these vulnerable people these questions? Maybe somebody on Indymedia can answer, are these measures new or recent or have they been practised for some time and only come to light on Indymedia recently?

Penal reform in Ireland is in my opinion, as I have often said, is non existent. Those charged with responsibility for this reform are an elite group that are so detached from the reality of what prison really is, it is approaching a stage of embarrassment. Liam Herick appointed John Lonergan an honourary member of his elite group. Lonergan was 38 years in the prison regime and I ask what real changes were made? In my opinion, NONE. The bullying continues of young vulnerable people behind these walls and last week a milestone case was won against Brian Rhatigan, found guilty of organising a one million E drug deal from his cell in Portlaoise using various mobile phones and sim cards. I hope tonight's program is not more PR spin and gives us some level of the truth of what goes on behind these walls.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Mon Feb 25, 2013 14:15Report this post to the editors

Tonight is the second episode on Irish prisons.

Last week in my opinion, it was staged to the point of a bad joke. I hope tonight it shows the reality of life behind the walls of the prisons.

I also welcome the proposal for the new Cork prison which is supposed to be started this year. Hope it is not more of the coalition spin. The new man in RTE Kevin Backhurst needs to keep us up to speed in the media about prison life and justice. There is a saying that a society is judged by how it treats its vulnerable. It is for the media to keep us informed.

Brian Flannery

author by A Living Saint.publication date Mon Feb 25, 2013 23:33Report this post to the editors

It is the people on the inside who are wrong.
The people on the outside don't worry about losers.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Tue Feb 26, 2013 13:14Report this post to the editors

Last night never showed the conditions at Mountjoy Limerick or Cork prisons. The above posting is immature to say the least not all prisoners are bad people. The Corrib protestors and the increasing numbers of small debtors going to prison on a daily basis.
The big guns of white collar crime play golf two tier system as always.
B Flannery.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Mon Jun 10, 2013 15:35Report this post to the editors

'The truth behind Irish prison walls, and what is really going on?' This RTE programme was broadcast in February 2013 and what we do know nearly 6 months on is that conditions in our prisons are not acceptable and that the portrayal by RTE resembled more a holiday camp than the realistic facts that are recently reported in the media.

Ireland has 14 jails and approximately 4,254 in its prison population. The fact is that slopping out is still best practice and 565 human beings 'slop out' each day. Where is the public health system in this country to challenge these conditions? An environment that states people live in cramped conditions with unhygenic in-cell sanitation, the threat of MRSA, heptatis, and other communicable diseases, is totally unacceptable in a country that can realistically and especially now with NAMA and its surplus property stock, ensure appropriate accommodation for prisoners. It is not acceptable that Minister Shatter sing off the same hymn sheet as former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and make such a hypocritical statement that 'the Government is comitted to the elimination of sloping out in all prisons and places of detention".

Similar to McDowell the promise is that there is a new prison for Cork but meantime the reality is that people are in prisons living in sub-human conditions which are un-necessary. To report that one in three prisoners in Cork prison are slopping out (ie 225 people) is nothing other than shameful and needs to be addressed urgently. Add to this Mountjoy, Portlaoise, and the picture is damning.

The Inspector of Prisons highlighted the plight of those who end up in prison with mental health problems. This is because community health care provision is so inadequate that people who if properly cared for in the community would often not become involved in petty crime. It is these people who fall between the cracks and often are on the bottom tier, homeless, without the skill-set necessary to avoid crime like theft for food for their needs. Add to this the lack of proper rehabilitation and post prison mentoring for those who are now third generational 'criminal'; there must be a better way? Education is a powerful tool and nobody who serves a sentence of several years should leave prison without being able to engage with the 3 R's and computer technology skills.

Brian Flannery

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Tue Jul 16, 2013 16:26Report this post to the editors

Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly quite rightly made some dawn raids on St Patrick's Institution for Young Offenders resulting in the submission of a detailed report to the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter: The outcome. Closure. The inference being: not fit for human habitation.

Whistleblowing conjures up words like 'snitch' or worse 'informer'. The connotations still imbibe the element of fear associated with the civil war and the aftermath. However, abuse of power and in particular white collar crime corruption has created an economic war of near destruction in our country so now is the time for the legislation presently going through the Dail for the protection of whistleblowers to be heralded in.

Important yet it doesn't gain much media attention.
Who knows about the prisoner who claims his detention 'is invalid because he was raped at knife-point'?

Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh reported on this on 26th May 2013 in the Irish Independent. The previous day Mr Justice Gerard Hogan directed: 'that the prisoner who claims he was raped by another inmate in late 2011, be brought before the court next week. This would allow the court to determine if it is to hold a full, formal inquiry into the legality of the prisoner's ongoing detention'.
The prisoner is not to be identified but will be known as "Mr Y". His sentence relates to assaults under sections 2 and 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. Mr Y was moved to anoter prison since the alleged rape.

A country or a society is judged by how it treats it most vulnerable. Rape in any context is wrong. Rape while in prison reflects harshly on those who run our prisons. It is particularly disturbing when media reports that a large proportion of prisoners have mental health problems and these people two decades ago would have been in the 'asylum' institution and now are kept off the street's in the prison institution. Vulnerability and Rape without proper supervision and not reported in the media is a recipe for ongoing abuse of power in our state run institutions going forward, which means we have learned nothing from the scandals so recently reported on. Mary Rafferty RIP and Behind the Walls - there are so very few such dedicated people to the plight of the hidden and most vulnerable.

40.2.2 of the Constitution deals with the legality of detention, and Mr Y is seeking an inquiry under this article. Its about the right to 'bodily integrity'.

Who are the eyes and ears?

author by Ciarapublication date Tue Jul 16, 2013 16:33Report this post to the editors

I think in these conditions - rape is going to happen - with overcrowded prisons and not enough staff to cope with the situation.

Is it really a formula for efficient supervision?

People are lumped in beside each other,without proper forethought,who knows maybe two inmates who share a cell are from opposing backgrounds have completely different views or are from different gangs etc.

No forethought is put into will i put person x next to y and what will happen? They don't even probably think along these lines..

author by morpheuspublication date Tue Jul 16, 2013 20:02Report this post to the editors

Rape is the point.

The real deterrent of prison lies in the unofficial sentence: the risk of rape and assault daily by other prisoners.

And the state likes it that way.

Society officially only sentences you to loss of liberty. That's not what scares people at all though.
And all the judges, gardai and politicians know this very well.

Don't expect this to ever change.

author by Comyn - Justicepublication date Sun Jul 21, 2013 14:54Report this post to the editors

Morphaeous: the brevity creates the intrusion to a reality within.

Harrowing. The thought and the collusion of State as a reality in our prisons merits discussion and eradication.

author by Comyn - Justicepublication date Thu Jul 25, 2013 16:17Report this post to the editors

Ciara

It is most disturbing that a student of legal studies is resigned to the fact that when people are placed in cells and are from different backgrounds that rape canl happen just by consequence. For a start, the idea was to give each prisoner a cell with a bible for thought and reflection. Time changed this and shortfall in investment into a prison service that overcrowds cells and abuses the human rights of people.

Rape is always wrong but I thought it necessary to refer to an article in today's Irish Times about the Rape Crisis Centre and their annual report. The recession bites deep and crime moves upwards and this includes rape. According to the article by Ruadhan MacCormaic in today's Times, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre received more than 9,000 calls last year - a 23% increase in first-time callers. The Chairperson, Frances Gardiner stated more than 50% of these calls related specifically to adult sexual violence ie rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and trafficking. It begs the question what happens to people who are raped in prison as discussed in earlier most disturbing posting. Phone calls in prison are based on privilege and counselling services are non existent for people raped within prison territory.

260 victims of rape and sexual assault (accompanied by RCC volunteers) go to the sexual assault treatment unit at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. These are the people who are fit enough, able and ready to engage with the legal process that rape demands. It is about making charges against he rapist. It is about contacting the Rape Crisis Centre and the local Gardai. It is about vulnerability and invasion of the bodily integrity that has already been invaded by the rapist/s. The law is brutal in that it is adversarial.

The stereotypical entrenched attitudes still stand. The questions are simple but damning? Were you drinking? Was your dress provocative? Did you lead the Rapist on?

Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop from the Rape Crisis Centre stated that even though significant progress has been made particularly over the last 35 years, 'there was a need to continue investing in the centre and in education so as "to ensure these changes are given the opportunity to be bedded down in our collective Irish psyche". Rape is wrong inside or outside prison walls but those on the inside have no voice and we must listen in the midst of silence for their voices also.

Change lies ahead. Legislation is creating a DNA database and it is planned to be in operation by 2014. Minister Shatter said that the database will "revolutionise" the detection and prevention of rape and sexual assault, would hold DNA profiles of every person convicted of any offence that attracted a sentence of five years or more - a bracket that covers rape and almost all sexual offences. Mr Shatter then says "Rape and sexual assault are abhorrences". If so Minister Shatter, perhaps you can enlighten us about the heavy handed techniques of certain Gardai when presented with a woman who has been raped. It is quite astonishing that the Rape Crisis Centre report has made no reference to how the Gardai deal with Rape and victims - if I am wrong, please correct me.

Comyn

author by Brian Flannery - Justice publication date Wed Jul 31, 2013 16:04Report this post to the editors

Indymedia reported on Brian Rossiter RIP. Today, an article in the 'Brief' section of the Irish Times reports that 'a man dies in Garda station holding cell'.

Immediately this raises questions. Why? How? Who is investigating the crime scene? Who will inform the family, the general public?

The Garda Ombudsman's office have been appointed to investigate the death of a man in a cell in Dungarvan Garda station, Co. Waterford. We are informed that the man is a local man and aged in his twenties. He was arrested prior to 11 am yesterday for a public order issue. 1 hour later he was found; efforts were made to revive him but he was pronounced dead at the prison cell. The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission were informed of the death.

The general public need to be aware. An arrest for a public order offence that ends in death of the person in a cell one hour later means questions must be asked and answered with integrity and honesty.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Sun Aug 25, 2013 15:55Report this post to the editors

A woman gets 30 days in prison for fines.

Last week, 3 Gardai arrive in a working class area of Dublin and by arrest warrant took a grandmother of 7 children to An Dochas - womens' prison. This endorses what we already know ie in Ireland a selective system of justice prevails.

Our prisons are full of the wrong people. Debts and fines: Why are we imprisoning people? The austerity programme of government, the massive amount of unemployment, the social disruption, surely debts and fines could be dealt with in another way. Prison is too harsh, it is financially too expensive. Prisons are at breaking point, there are too many people being sent to prison and there is inadequate provision of necessary accommodation in our prisons. What is the real purpose of placing this grandmother in prison for outstanding debts and fines?

Selective is the word: What about the Anglo Irish bankers and certain developers who strategically escaped to the US? What money funded them and how did they secure visas? When does the CAB kick into play to make arrests for those living off illegal earnings from crime. Where are the solicitors who basically embezzled funds and seek haven in South American countries and elsewhere? These people have left havoc yet there is no political will to tackle these cases. Where are the Arrest Warrants? The FBI have no problem with intervening in cases via the Irish courts - especially when they seek out a man who is considered to be the worst in the world for computer trafficking and child porn.

30 days in prison for a grandmother, who is bereaved just recently, is a gross injustice and a product of a system of selective justice that currently is unrelenting in Ireland in favour of those who have power and are still in the position to abuse it to their own gain.

Brian Flannery

author by Forster - Justicepublication date Sat Aug 31, 2013 15:56Report this post to the editors

Reported August 31st, 2013: Another death of a prisoner in Mountjoy. Why? How? Do we care? Yes we should.

A young man was arrested around 11 am in the morning, several weeks ago, was taken to the station in Dungarvan, Co Waterford and was found dead. Again, we need to ask Why? How? and Do we really care?

The legal profession, the judiciary, the politicians, spend their August away from the ruff and tumble of everyday life but there are no holidays for those who are in prison. It is essential to consider the recent report of Judge Michael Reilly, Inspector of Prisons, and especially the dire circumstances reported of certain prisoners who have mental health problems and the recommendation to immediatly close St Patrick's ie Young Offenders.

Do we know when St. Patrick's will close and how these young offenders prison conditions will be improved in line with the report of the Inspector of Prisons. When people with mental health problems are released from prison, there is a shameful neglect in the provision of community health care services to prevent the revolving door trap either to prison or to psychiatric containment. Addiction is a public health matter. Whether classified as a disease or not, it is responsible for the many young people found living homeless and begging on our streets. Emaciated is a hard word but next time you stop to give some coins to someone begging on our streets, look at them and emaciated becomes the word confirmed by what you see and that is what addiction does to people.

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Tue Sep 03, 2013 15:23Report this post to the editors



Reading one of the Sunday newspapers over the weekend, I was amused to learn the latest of Minister Shatter's proposals:- All Prison Governors have been given instructions to send a letter out to "prisoners on the run". The headline read:

'Dear Lags - Please come back to jail.

Numbers stated that there were 79 female prisoners at large.

It then goes on to state that there are 1,000 prisoners who claimed social welfare amounting to 3.5 m euros while legally being behind bars since 2011. Letters were sent out to over 140 prisoners to return to prison immediately yet they are currently drawing down social welfare. It's simple: Just cut off the dole.

Mountjoy have 124 at large. Wheatfield have over 100. Cork prison have 94 at large. Castlrea prison, there are 20. Loughan House and Shelton Abbey there are no details. Why?

This is an absolute disgrace.

What really is going on in the Irish penal system.

Brian Flannery

author by Prison media - Justice and Human Rightspublication date Thu Sep 05, 2013 14:22Report this post to the editors



This story last weekend Brian was most bizarre to say the least. John Waters pulled a good stunt to enhance his ego on Tuesday by getting to stay 45 minutes in Wheatfield prison, as a guest of the State, for failing to pay fine.

Our prisons are full to breaking point, Cork is ready to explode and Mountjoy is coping on a complete lock down.

Herrick in Penal Refor is non existant. Change is needed. It is time to stop locking up debtors, it's stupid.

Ordinary citizens need to stand up. Shortly private companies will run the prisons here.

Then the chaos begins

Prison Media

author by Comyn - Justicepublication date Fri Sep 06, 2013 16:01Report this post to the editors

These young offenders need a voice. Generational crime without proper education, job provision, or hope for an alternative to the revolving door of either the psychiatric hospital or the prison is just not good enough.

Meantime the legislation is establishing the DNA database. It will outline 'criminals' and is due for publication next week. It has passed through the Cabinet stage. It's objective is to revolutionise the detection and prevention of rape and sexual assault. The question we need to ask ourselves is about the potential for bias. There are people waiting for trial or for that matter for a decision from the DPP presently who have the ability to pay for legal representation, who know the rigours of the law, the lacunae and actively use the legal system to delay cases both at the DPP level and court hearings, for years going forward. How many people go off the grid when they are directed to a private psychiatric hospital to delay questioning by the Gardai? This happens and must be dealt with to give true effectiveness to the purpose of this DNA database legislation.

The DNA database of criminals will include those (but will scarely apply due to delay to those white collar criminals) convicted of a crime and where the sentence is greater than five years, the database will hold a DNA profile of the person. Gardai will be able to access database and databases in other EU countries and in the United States. This will enable the sharing of information, including that contained in the Irish sentence.

John Waters, a man of experience. A fine, a holding cell, an opinion, a voice, a writer, time to engage with the concept of restorative justice, the need for education, rehabilitation and involvement before people become hardened criminals and labelled for life. Overcrowding in prisons leads to internal disruption and if you look to the problems of the prison industry created in the US you will find that now the number of people has quadrupled in certain states and prisoners are lined in dormitories. There is a new approach being considered in the US and that it to encourage early release but by introducing prisoners to education programmes. Ireland is a small country, we must be able to do something similar.

author by Edmund Ffrench - Social Justicepublication date Wed Sep 18, 2013 16:01Report this post to the editors

The Irish Times 17th September 2013: a letter in response to Joe Humphry's piece on:
("High level of psychosis among remand prisoners")

The revolving door is about fate these days as people find themselves provided with the either/or in response to a mental health 'episode'. The fortunate who have private health cover have the guaranteed route to private mental health care or addiction provision in our elite private hospitals. Others, their plight is far more uncertain and the HSE and the prison services stand co-accused for the shameful treatment of those who are the most vulnerable in society. There was a time when dispensary doctors provided a service to the public that most often included weekend working hours and late nights. Not now. Worse again, even the hospitals fail the vulnerable because the much promised community health care teams work minimal hours providing basically ciderella services to those who are casualties of society.

Frank Browne - a letter that is worth reading.
Adult Mental Helath Interest Group, Irish Association of Social Workers, Pearse Street, Dublin 2, quite rightly states in his letter to the Irish Times that :-

"While cost and time can always be an excuse for us healthcare workers, the reality is that we need to make tough decisions as to WHO we prioritise? Patients who have schizoprenia or psychosis and engage in substance abuse can cause chaos on a psychiatric inpatient unit and often the response is to discharge to homeless services with limited outpatient care'.

Minister O'Reilly, Minister Shatter, Minister Lynch, Minister Burton, Inspector of Prisons - Judge Michael Reilly, Liam Herrick, Irish Penal Reform Trust, Colm O'Gorman, Amnesty International, to name but a few.

Your performance or commitment is just not good enough. It is time for you to do a little research and learn that those especially over the last decade who have created journals of experiences about mental health services, the HSE, the criminal justice system, is clear proof that what we now have is a scandal beyond credibility. It is now decades since Sean McBride (founder of Amnesty International) wrote on prisons and Noel Browne (Mother and Child scheme) wrote concerning the health system; if anything the services are worse than ever. The mental health and addiction problems are to be witnessed daily on our streets with 'beggars' so addicted to illegal drugs that they are but skeletal shadows of human beings crying out for help that does not exist. Weaning off is the objective of methadone but the question is Is this just another way of sidelining those addicted based on the economics rather than the practicalities of providing options for these people to return to education and then to work. Where are the recovery programmes because the evidence is if you look to community health care teams - they just don't appear to be working.

Two examples: a woman found dead in her bed for over one year in Swords. No family; no back-up by her GP; the community health care supposedly providing for her mental health and addiction problems. How could this happen? Is this not Minister O'Reilly's patch? This man is a doctor, his family were involved in medicine. What does he really think now about services of near non existence? The woman was in her early 50's and the fact is nobody cared enough to notice that her social welfare cheques were not being collected. So very sad.

Dublin 4, Donnybrook, Dermot Rooney aged 52 left prison....days later and he was dead. 24th January (winter, maybe a safe space from the cold harsh streets of being homeless), he was taken into custody. His brother Gerry recalls "he was hugely depressed and intimidated in prison. A weak lad like Dermot is easily picked out. I was frightened visiting him and I had a prison officer next to me. The other prisoners see someone like Dermot and it's just fun for them to mess around with him".

Does a man with addiction problems find resolve, resolution, rehabilitation in prison? Dermot was first placed on the D wing in Cloverhill for vulnerable prisoners but then he was transferred to Wheatfield....surprise surprise - his mental health history bore no relevance. Awareness should be the mantra of all people who give to charities of the industries emerging for catering for the homeless and their level of effectiveness and commitment to rehabilitation. Focus Ireland visited Dermot on three occasions 'to prepare accommodation for him on his release...but the day before a fourth meeting the Charity was informed that Dermot had been given temporary release'. Dermot had no-one. His brother (and he should bear some shame also) said '(How can you not hand him over to somebody? And they just said, 'Oh lucky him'....Dermot was just put out on the street'.

Pass the buck. Forget all about that cinderella profession called psychiatry. Earmarked funds for mental health are the easy target for government when they need to feed the excessive debts to the ECB which now is racking up charges close to £7 billion and rising each year - their priorities are so skewed. Common sense would say it is time for write-downs to be negotiated.

To conclude: The Irish Prison Service attended the inquest concerning Dermot, released from prison, homeless and dead by suicide. They said:- "It was a failure on our part not to have consulted with Focus Ireland who had been engaging with Mr Rooney". It also admitted no formal case review was conducted prior to his release, 'and nor were any efforts made to ensure he had someone to meet him when released'.

Who cares now. Mental health; addiction, neurological deficits can be the source of hidden talents. We can never learn if we don't become a more focused and caring society with emphasis on providing the health care systems that support our most vulnerable. There are nearly now as many suicide charities as there are suicides each year. There must be a message here.

author by Comyn - Justicepublication date Mon Dec 23, 2013 16:19Report this post to the editors

Acquaint is the word that comes to mind with those who are deprived of their freedom this Christmas.

Use the opportunity to google and find out about programmes that enlighten peoples' attitudes to more rehabilitative restorative based justice programmes.

To ground the senses my suggestion is to check out Pups behind bars; it links to Oprah Winfrey, to you-tube but the message resounds. Take the human being, the circumstances, the paradox, the bipolarity, and the vision of a woman who sees that through dogs she can connect prisoners on death row with soldiers depleted by post traumatic stress disorder, depression, loss of limbs, and form a connection, a bond that says compassion is a teacher and the link between man and dog can traverse that great divide between those called criminals and those who are the wounded soldiers of the wars engaged in under the credo of quelling rebels in far off lands....as someone recently said, Africa, the continent, is undergoing its own world-war as Europe did in WW1 and WW2.

To Irish prisoners in the Irish prisons the question for us to ask if there is any news out there that will inspire the Inspector of Prisons, the Department of Justice, and other bodies to engage with Restorative Justice and pledge themselves to a fairer system in 2014. To piggy back based on the trials and outcomes of other Nations is a good start for a small Island country like Ireland.

Today's English Times has a little snippet! The title: 'Youngsters to sentence their fellow teenagers'

Youngsters, some as young as 14, in a community court setting, are to be selected to hear cases against people in the 10-25 age group. This is a watch this space initiative for Ireland.

PC Mark Walsh, of Hampshire constabulary said:-
This initiative is going to bring together the victim of the crime and the perpetrator of the crime. Volunteers will be to trained to givef punishments for the "low level" crimes now dealth with by the police. More serious cases will continue to be heard by magistrates and Judges.

PC Walsh states further that

There is no compulsion on the victim to attend or for the perpetrator to take part.



Today's media reports about two young women who face 6 years imprisonment in a South America hell-hole of a prison. They received food covered in cock-roaches. Yes, smuggling drugs is wrong but these women are only in their early twenties and they pay a high price for their greed and foolishness.

Can we use social media to have them returned to Ireland and the UK to serve their sentences. Having lived in Zimbabwe, these prisons in third world countries, are beyond what is reasonable for citizens of both England and Ireland.

Comyn

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