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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Jailed criminals get €19m in pocket money from State

Brian McDonald

Published 18/08/2014 | 02:30

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A violent man without money is much more likely to end up in prison. iStockphoto
A violent man without money is much more likely to end up in prison. iStockphoto

Convicted criminals have been paid almost €19m in pocket money from the State while serving time in Irish prisons during the past five years.

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Every prisoner receives a daily cash allowance which they can use to make purchases from the prison shop or put it away safely for use after their release.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that €18,922,294 has been gifted to detainees of the State's 14 prison institutions in this manner since 2009.

Prior to 2013, all inmates were entitled to a flat-rate gratuity payment of €2.35 per day. However, the system has been reformed to provide for three levels of payment to incentivise good behaviour in prisons.

A standard rate of €1.70 per day now applies but this is increased to an enhanced rate of €2.20 per day if a prisoner is compliant, and can be reduced to €0.95 per day if a prisoner misbehaves.

Prisoners who participate in cleaning or maintenance duties while behind bars can earn an additional €1 per day on top of their basic daily allowance.

The pocket money can be spent on discretionary items from the prison tuck shop, such as cigarettes or magazines. It can also be saved and made available upon release.

Reform

As part of the reform of the scheme last year, prisoners are also charged €0.15 per day for television rental. This can be paid for using the daily allowance.

An average of €3.8m per year has been spent by the Irish Prison Service in providing pocket money to inmates since 2009.

The institution that has doled out the highest amount under the scheme during that time is Mountjoy Prison, which has an operational capacity of 540. Its detainees have received almost €3.4m over the past five years.

Inmates of Midlands Prison in Portlaoise were paid €2.6m during the same period, while prisoners at Wheatfield and Cloverhill prisons received €2.5m and €1.9m respectively.

Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon, which has a capacity of 340, paid its detainees €1.4m over the five-year period - slightly higher than Limerick and Cork prisons, which spent €1.2m and €1.1m on the scheme, respectively.

The institution with the lowest total spend under the scheme was Shelton Abbey, which is a low-security prison with an operational capacity of 115.

It paid €591,537 in pocket money to its prisoners during the period.

Irish Independent

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