Inmates forced to sleep on floor in packed jail

One of the country’s busiest prisons is so overcrowded, inmates sleep on mattresses on the floor.

Minister: "As Cloverhill Prison is the primary remand prison for the Leinster area, it has been affected more significantly"

In a three-month period this year, 44 inmates in Cloverhill Prison have slept on the ground in the Clondalkin jail.

Justice Minister Charles Flanagan revealed the figures to Independent TD Clare Daly.

He confirmed figures from the Irish Prison Service showed eight prisoners slept on the floor during April, 21 during May, and 15 in June.

He said renovations to the Dublin prison added to the overcrowding issue.

As Cloverhill Prison is the primary remand prison for the Leinster area, it has been affected more significantly in terms of the increased number of committals in the past year.

Jim Mitchell, deputy general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said overcrowding can be a recipe for disaster.

In some places, it is someone sleeping on a mattress putting three to a cell where there should only be two. If you have three prisoners in a cell for an extended period of time, it creates an amount of difficulty.

He added that while the problem of overcrowding has been a problem for many years it had abated but it has crept up again recently due to refurbishment.

Ms Daly yesterday said it would be helpful if the Department of Justice took some responsibility for a strategy on the problem.

“In many cases, there are homeless men and men with addiction issues who should be diverted away from the overcrowded prison system and treated through other services,” Ms Daly.

The latest figures from the Irish Prison Service on the prison population in Cloverhill Prison for this month show there are 409 prisoners in custody with a bed capacity for 431 inmates.

Mountjoy female prison, meanwhile, has a capacity for 105 but has 142 inmates in custody, while Limerick female prison has capacity for 28 prisoners but yesterday had 33 behind bars.

A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service said that in such cases the jail is required to “double up” prisoners in their rooms.

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