300 inmates on restricted regimes across prison system

New figures show 91 prisoners are currently on lock down at Mountjoy prison.

According to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, the numbers at Mountjoy account for almost a third of the 300 prisoners on lockdown across the prison system.

The figures show the vast majority of prisoners on lockdown in Mountjoy are on a 19-hour restricted programme, with 83 under that regime, a further five on lockdown for 21 hours, and three on a 23-hour lockdown regime.

Ms Fitzgerald said that, of the 300 on restricted regimes across all prisons, 23 are aged 18-20, and 64 are aged 21-24.

The figures show 61 prisoners at Limerick are on a 21-hour lockdown; with 54 under that regime at Wheatfield.

At the country’s only high-security prison at Portlaoise, 17 prisoners are on a restricted regime for 19 hours each day, with an additional five on lockdown for 21 hours a day.

The statistics also show Wheatfield prison has the second-highest number, 65, on various lockdown regimes, with 29 under that regime at the Midlands prison, 22 at Portlaoise, 21 at Cork, and 11 at Cloverhill.

Ms Fitzgerald said: “The restriction of a prisoner’s regime can occur due to a number of factors, including, the protection of vulnerable prisoners.

“A prisoner may, either at his/her own request or when the governor considers it necessary, in so far as is practicable and subject to the maintenance and good order and safe and secure custody, be kept separate from other prisoners who are reasonably likely to cause significant harm to him or her.

“In July 2013, the director general of the Irish Prison Service established a high- level group to look at measures which can be introduced to reduce the number of prisoners currently held on restricted regimes with a view to ensuring that all receive, as a minimum standard, out of cell time of 3 hours per day, to engage in exercise or activity.”

Separately, Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that 304 prisoners still have to slop out in their cells.

The numbers of prisoners who have to slop out has declined sharply in recent years from 1,003 in 2010 to the current 304 — around 8% of the prison population.

Previously, Amnesty International’s Irish branch had expressed concern over the practice. Ms Fitzgerald confirmed the vast majority of slopping out takes place at Cloverhill Remand, where there are 214 prisoners without in-cell sanitation.

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