Fine Gael response to prison overcrowding needs to change
Labour justice spokesperson Aodhan O Riordain has called for a change of approach to the justice system.
Deputy O Riordain said:
“The findings of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons Annual Report for 2022 is nothing short of shameful.
“Fine Gael have absolutely lost control of after 12 years in charge of the Department of Justice.
“When it comes to prison overcrowding and poor conditions, Fine Gael’s response is to build more prisons. This is nothing short of bankrupt thinking.
“Our prison system should work to prevent reoffending, to act as a rehabilitation centre. If you’re sleeping on the floor in horrendous conditions, it’s not going to inspire a change in behaviour.
“The pernicious overcrowding has a massive knock-on effect on prison conditions. Opportunities for rehabilitation are limited, and prisoners are released in an unstructured way with few measures available to prevent re-offending.
“Fine Gael need to wake up and change approach. All the expert evidence suggests that prison should be a sanction of last-resort, that greater reliance should be placed on community-based sanctions to achieve more effective rehabilitation and reduce re-offending rates.
“Under Fine Gael, there is no attempt to see prisoners as people who need help and support. Our prison system is marked by poor conditions, with more than half of all prisoners sharing cells, meaning that even where in-cell sanitation has been introduced, prisoners have to use the toilet in front of their cell-mates.
“It’s utterly outrageous. The system clearly is not working.”