Punishment out of line with international standards – judge
PUNISHMENT meted out to prisoners in the nation's jails is totally out of line with international standards, according to the Inspector of Prisons.
Judge Michael Reilly said he had encountered cases where up to 60 days' punishment had been imposed by the prison authorities.
And he noted that disciplinary sanctions, such as 56 days of "loss of privileges" were commonplace in prisons here.
In a report to Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the judge said disciplinary sanctions must be proportionate and must be understood by both staff and prisoners.
Judge Reilly criticised the culture in some prisons, which resulted in low-level abuse of prisoners, shouting and using "unparliamentary" language at offenders, not attending to call bells, and indifference to reasonable queries or requests raised by prisoners. He pointed out that 25pc of all prisoners were on protection for various reasons.
"The prevalence of gangs in the prison, which reflects that on the outside, is also a problem as vulnerable prisoners can be forced to join a gang or do so of their own volition as they perceive that by doing this they are safer," he added.
Judge Reilly noted that prisoners on 23-hour lock-up effectively had little or no contact with teachers, addiction services, the library or with the many voluntary, external bodies, who did excellent work with those prisoners with access to them.