Sunday 28 December 2014

Prison inmates to be trained as librarians

Tom Brady, Security Editor

Published 18/08/2014 | 13:19

Frances Fitzgerald,TD,the Minister for Justice and Defence. Picture: Tom Burke
Frances Fitzgerald,TD,the Minister for Justice and Defence. Picture: Tom Burke

TRUSTED long term prisoners are to be trained as librarians in the nation’s jails to improve the service to inmates.

Staff shortages at some jails have been highlighted in a number of prison visiting committee reports, published this afternoon by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

An outside librarian has already been hired on contract to train up prisoners in areas where there the service is not fully operational.

And the minister said today that the Irish Prison Service was now actively pursuing the option of deploying “suitably trained” inmates in all prisons to maximise the service.

A key target of the extension of the library service is to cater for prisoners, who are kept apart from the general jail population for security or personal protection reasons.

Some of the committees also expressed concern about drugs problems behind bars.

The minister said efforts were ongoing to prevent the flow of drugs into prisons but acknowledged that constant improvements were needed in this area.

The Mountjoy committee reported that the modernisation of accommodation there had resulted in a significant reduction in the numbers lock-up in their cells for up to 23 hours a day.

The committee said the total on 23-hour lock-up had fallen from 45 in July last year to five last January.

But there were still 30 prisoners confined to cells for 20 hours a day in January and a further 10 for 19 hours.

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