Treatment centre for offenders has funds cut

AN INDEPENDENT review of a residential treatment centre for offenders said it was in “crisis” and urged it be immediately closed down.

The finding resulted in a decision by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to withdraw funding to Harristown House, which is located on the grounds of Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon.

The review also recommended that funding should end for Kazelain, which is located in Sligo town and offers short-term accommodation for released prisoners.

Mr Ahern withdrew funding as a result.

A review of Adult Probation Residential Facilities was conducted by consultants Eustace Patterson Limited for the Probation Service. The report, completed last July, has been put up on the Department of Justice website.

Evaluators Ann Clarke and Anne Eustace examined four such facilities. While it came to a damning conclusion in relation to Harristown House and Kazelain, it was very positive about Priorswood House, in north Dublin, and Tus Nua, in Dublin’s north inner city.

Harristown House opened in 1998 and provided a residential treatment centre for offenders with alcohol and/or drug-related offences.

The report said: “The overall conclusion is that Harristown House is in crisis. There are serious indications (eg HR, financial and quality of service) that the organisation has become dysfunctional.

“The HR difficulties are particularly serious and a culture of blame, fear, aggression and hostility has developed. The situation has been festering and the signs are it is now adversely affecting the care and rehabilitation of residents.”

They recommended it be closed down for at least six months and that time should be taken to examine its future.

The consultants said Kazelain was poor value for money and that the average occupancy rate was 41%. It said probation officers in the community had lost confidence in the facility resulting in very low referrals.

They said funding should be withdrawn with a view to re-opening it with a new partner.

The report said Priorswood House, which provides a rehabilitation and resettlement service to offenders, represented good value for money.

It said the house had to potential to provide a fully integrated service to Probation Service referrals.

The report said Tus Nua, which provides transitional housing for women leaving Dochas prison, provided a very good, albeit costly, service.

It said it was a good example of an effective working partnership between NGOs and the Probation Service.


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