Authorities investigate sex assault in jail

Disturbing details of an alleged sexual assault on a young prisoner by other inmates in St Patrick’s Institution emerged yesterday.

The young man has claimed a number of inmates tied him to a chair in his cell and that one or two of them slapped their penises across his face.

The alleged attack only came to the attention of the authorities after prison officers saw inmates physically assault him in the exercise yard the following day.

The two assaults are being investigated by the Irish Prison Service and detectives attached to Mountjoy Garda Station.

Prison officers intervened when they saw some inmates jumping on the young man in the outdoor yard on Friday, Mar 15.

It was after this incident that the youth told officers about the sexual attack the previous day in his cell.

The attack is the latest incident in the troubled institution which has repeatedly been at the end of strong criticism by international and domestic inspectors, penal reformers, and, most recently, Justice MInister Alan Shatter.

Yesterday, the Irish Examiner reported that 44 young offenders in the prison are locked in their cells 23 hours a day.

This accounts for one fifth of all inmates in the prison and marks a massive jump in the numbers held on 23-hour lock-up.

The last published figures show that nobody was on 23-hour lock-up in Jul 2012 and that only two people had been in Nov 2011.

People are placed on restrictive regimes without contact with other inmates for their own safety or because they themselves pose a significant threat to others.

The proportion of protection prisoners, including those in 23-hour lock-up, is far higher in St Patrick’s than any other jail.

The juvenile prison also records, by far, the highest number of assaults in the entire system.

Previous figures published in the Irish Examiner show there were 367 assaults by prisoners on other inmates in St Patrick’s in 2011 as well as 48 assaults on staff by inmates.

Last October, the Inspector of Prisons published a damning report on the prison, documenting excessive use of force by some staff against inmates and a culture of bullying, again by a certain group of staff.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust has expressed deep concern at the culture of violence in the prison, fuelled by usage of illegal and prescription drugs.

They have expressed particular concern at the large numbers in protective custody, including those in 23-hour lock-up.


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