Saturday 20 October 2018

Gang warfare, overcrowding, drugs - RTE documentary reveals how Mountjoy has changed in 21 years

Back to the Joy is follow-up to The Joy which aired on RTE in 1997

Donald Taylor Black - The Joy (1997), RTE.
Donald Taylor Black - The Joy (1997), RTE.
Mobile phones are a problem today. Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm.
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Back in 1997 'The Joy', a groundbreaking documentary exposing the reality of life in Mountjoy, aired on RTE. Now, 21 years later, the director returns to the Dublin prison to see what has changed - for better or worse.

The original four part series highlighted issues like the practice of 'slopping out' which saw prisoners using buckets as toilets overnight during lock up in cells and emptying them out in the morning.

The practice did not end until 2014 when in-cell sanitation was provided.

Taylor Black was given unprecedented access to the prison itself and sought permission to show everyone in shot rather than conceal identities as they filmed the documentary over six weeks.

Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm

Airing on RTE One tonight at 9.35pm, the follow-up, Back to the Joy, sees director Donald Taylor Black speaking to staff, prisoners and their families about the issues facing them today.

While slopping out is a thing of the past, new problems have mushroomed in the intervening 21 years, not least of which is the emergence of Dublin's gangland feud.

Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm

Approximately 300 prisoners across 14 separate factions are now secluded/separated because of possible danger from gang feuding.

Also, mobile phones were in their infancy when the original series was made but in 2015, 265 were confiscated at Mountjoy.

Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm

A more positive development is the changes within the women's prison.  Originally it was situated in a wing of St Patrick's Institution for young male offenders, but since 1999 it is based at the Dóchas Centre where the prisoners live in seven separate houses.

However, overcrowding is a big issue.

Mobile phones are a problem today. Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm.
Mobile phones are a problem today. Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm.

At the time it aired The Joy was a ground-breaking piece of TV and earned the ratings to match.  The four part series averaged a massive 796,000 viewers per episode and a 56.7 per cent audience share.  The episode on the women's prison drew 877,000 viewers.

Back to the Joy airs tonight, Monday April 16, on RTE One at 9.35pm.

Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm
Back to the Joy, RTE One, 9.35pm

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