Tuesday 24 October 2017

Two-thirds of prisoners are addicts

More than two-thirds of Ireland’s 3,700 prisoners have drug or alcohol addiction problems. Stock Image
More than two-thirds of Ireland’s 3,700 prisoners have drug or alcohol addiction problems. Stock Image
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

More than two-thirds of Ireland's 3,700 prisoners have drug or alcohol addiction problems, TDs have been told.

Irish Prison Service director general Michael Donnellan revealed the extraordinary figure at the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

He said the Prison Service ran treatment and detox programmes and there were 500 prisoners who were on methadone.

Separately, he said that at any one time up to 30 prisoners - who could be described as "psychotic" - were waiting for places in acute mental health facilities.

"Our prisons - people would say - are our new asylums because we get so many people who have got acute mental health problems," he said.

The PAC also heard that an "annualised hours" system of pay that replaced overtime for prison officers in 2005 did not result in €31m a year savings as estimated. Instead €5.5m a year was saved and this was reduced further due to lump sums paid to officers to secure their agreement for the new arrangement. The system is being reviewed.

Irish Independent

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