Wednesday 27 March 2019

Concern over lack of mental health services for prisoners

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A new report has found a lack of adequate mental health services for prisoners and insufficient daily prison staffing levels, resulting in reduced access to education for inmates.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) report also found around 13pc of the prison population was on a restricted regime - with more than two-thirds of these on 21-hour lock up. According to figures from July, five prisoners were on 23-hour lock-up. A further 30 were being confined to their cells for 22 hours a day, while 368 were on lock-up for 21 hours a day.

The report revealed only 23pc of the prison population are engaged in vocational training and only 43pc participate in education.

The IPRT is a non-governmental organisation campaigning for progressive reform of Irish penal policy.

Its 'Progress in the Penal System 2018' report said there had been no change in the past year in the area of mental healthcare. It said there were consistently 20 to 30 prisoners with severe mental illness awaiting transfer to the Central Mental Hospital. It said there was only one designated centre to receive forensic patients and a new facility at Portrane, Co Dublin, was unlikely to meet projected need.

Another issue of concern was overcrowding in the State's two women's prisons.

Irish Independent

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