Number jailed over court fines soars by 91pc
The number of people jailed for not paying a court fine almost doubled last year for the second year in a row, new figures revealed today.
The Irish Prison Service's latest report shows 4,806 people were put behind bars in 2009 for failing to pay fines - a jump of 91pc from the previous year.
A spokesman for the service said there was no breakdown of the type of fines but they ranged from disorderly conduct and motoring offences to the non-payment of television licences.
"With the Minister for Justice introducing the Fines Bill in the near future we would expect this figure to drop fairly substantially," he added.
A total of 12,339 people were sent to prison last year, an increase of 13pc on 2008.
Nine out of ten of those jailed were men.
The number of people serving less than three months soared by more than 60% to 5,750, while inmates jailed for ten years or more rose by 8pc from 65 to 70.
Prisoners serving sentences of between three to five years increased by more than a third in 2009 to 469, with 139 people in this category jailed for drug offences.
Meanwhile, the average cost of keeping a prison space fell by more than 15,000 euro to 77,000 euro - a drop the Prison Service put down to lower pay costs and more beds.