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Prisoners should pay their way and not cost the State while inside

Ivor Callely is spending his first night in jail. But has justice has been done?

It is bewildering to see how government views sections of society and treats them differently. Take our pensioners, for instance, some of whom need places in nursing homes.

The Government insisted that those pensioners be rigorously assessed in their income and assets to establish what charges should be levied in allocating places in nursing homes, which are said to be expensive to run.

These pensioners paid tax over many years and it is arguable that the least they should expect is for the State to take care of them in their old age.

A compelling argument, indeed.

On the other hand, we have Mr Callely, who has just received a prison sentence for his crime, but it is the taxpayers of this country who have to pay for his incarceration.

I’m sure Callely, and many others in our prisons, are in receipt of some income or pension, and this income or pension should be subjected to the same scrutiny as the honest taxpayer who wants a bed in a nursing home. This, I believe, should be done with all prisoners. Prisoners’ incomes should be assessed after they have been sentenced: essential payments could be exempt, but the rest should go to the State for the length of the jail sentence.

A bank loan for a family home, for instance, could be regarded as an essential payment, as failure to make such payments would mean a further burden to the State as the prisoner would need to be re-housed on release.

All should be decided by the judge based on submissions at the time of sentencing. It seems totally unjust that a prisoner can emerge from a prison sentence and looking forward to spending his lump sum, which has accumulated over the period he has been in jail, at the taxpayers’ expense.

A simple measure like this could save this country millions, and would, I believe, attract support across all parties.

I want the tax I pay spent on the people who built this country, not on the convicted criminals who are tearing it down.

Eugene McGuinness

40 Bishop Birch Place

Kilkenny


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