Sinn Féin spokesperson Aengus O Snodaigh TD today accused Minister for Justice Michael McDowell of "headline grabbing" and posing by adopting a tough stance on crime.
In his statement Mr O Snodaigh supported suggestions that overcrowding at Mountjoy contributed to the death of Gary Douch in July adding: "More prisons and bigger prisons is not the answer."
The Dublin south-central TD said: “After the tragic death of Gary Douch in Mountjoy Prison at the end of July, the Irish Prison Service rejected suggestions that Mountjoy was overcrowded, or that overcrowding had contributed to Mr Douch’s death.
"The Prison Officers Association has confirmed numerous other sources in its statement saying that Mountjoy is more overcrowded than it has been in years."
“Almost 60% of prison sentences in this state are for six months or less costing between €40,000 to €100,000 per prisoner for the period. The equivalent community service order, shown to have a positive impact on re-offending rates, for that period would cost approximately €1,500.
"Provision of proper educational and recreational facilities for prisoners, sorely missing in the Irish prison system, has also been shown to have a demonstrable negative impact on recidivism.
“More prisons and bigger prisons is not the answer regardless of whether it grabs the headline, or allows the Minister to pose as tough on crime.
"Proper resourcing of the probation and welfare service, moving prisoners with mental illnesses and disabilities into mental health treatment centres and proper educational facilities to combat recidivism constitutes an evidence-based approach to reducing prison numbers, and crime," said Mr O Snodaigh.