Proposals to refit Mountjoy for older and most vulnerable prisoners

Proposals to refit Mountjoy for older and most vulnerable prisoners

Part of Mountjoy Prison is being considered as a new home for some of the country's most vulnerable and ill older prisoners, it has been revealed.

Prison chiefs proposed refitting the Training Unit in the Dublin jail complex as the population of inmates ages.

The idea was mooted amid warnings from the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) that Ireland risks breaching prisoners' basic human rights and subjecting them to degrading treatment if there is inadequate care for dementia sufferers behind bars.

A report by the agency found prisoners with Alzheimer's or similar degrading conditions posed a significant issue for the Irish Prison Service and inmates.

While some aspects of prison life were found to be positive, interviews with inmates revealed some older people are confined to their cell or are bed-bound - and in some instances intimate personal care such as the changing of incontinence pads is being provided by other prisoners.

Researchers also revealed one man in his 70s had been diagnosed with dementia, but did not appear to be aware of his condition or how long he had been in prison or what his sentence was.

IPRT researchers called on prison chiefs to ensure any unit for older people would incorporate age-friendly design, taking account of the specific needs of older people.

Fergal Black, Irish Prison Service director of care and rehabilitation, confirmed ideas were being assessed for development of the Training Unit.

"We want to improve our physical infrastructure for older prisoners," he said.

"We would adapt maybe 10 plus of the units there, make them mobility-friendly, have hoists, appropriate toilet facilities and double doors."

The proposal for redevelopment for a unit for older offenders was suggested as figures showed 359 prisoners, including 11 women, over 50, were serving sentences in Irish jails last year.

That is about 10% of the overall population and a 63% increase since 2001.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said: "We are considering and we have committed in our strategy for 2016-2018 to developing a unit for older prisoners."

The agency declined to be drawn on what other prisons were being looked as a dedicated detention centre for older inmates.


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