Overcrowding remains a major issue in Irish prisons, it was claimed today.
The Prison Officers’ Association (POA) says inmates can no longer be housed in 19th-century conditions.
Speaking out before the opening of the association’s annual delegate conference in Kilkenny, POA president Jim Mitchell said having too many inmates caused most problems for prison officers and most risk for prisoners.
“Cork prison, for example, houses 100% more prisoners than it should – and this is totally unacceptable and creates risks for all the parties involved,” he said.
“There is also serious overcrowding in Mountjoy, where the ’bed capacity’ is constantly changing as management continue to play around with the figures. I know for certain that Mountjoy is not designed to hold 600 prisoners, which it was housing in a recent assessment by the POA”.
Justice Minister Brian Lenihan will address delegates at the POA conference in the Lyrath Hotel tonight.
Mr Mitchell will later deliver his opening speech, in which he is expected to address his concerns to delegates.
“Overcrowding creates competition for limited resources, higher suicide rates, aggression between inmates, higher rates of illness and infectious diseases among prisoners – and a provides a virtual training ground for bullying and victimisation of vulnerable prisoners,” Mr Mitchell added.
“We speak in terms of rehabilitation for the prison population – but if we are to be really serious about rehabilitation – we should house prisoners in 21st and not 19th-century conditions.”