Prisons policy needs overhaul
JUSTICE Minister Dermot Ahern opened a new block in Wheatfield Prison yesterday and announced that the first phase of the Thornton Hall project will provide 400 cells to hold up to 700 persons.
It requires no great imagination to see these developments as part of a frantic search for accommodation for an ever-increasing prison population. On the minister's own reckoning, this increased in the last 12 months by 412, or almost 10.5pc.
How are they housed? Wheatfield sounds rather pleasant. No doubt the same will be true of Thornton -- if it is ever built. But conditions in our biggest prison, Mountjoy, are deplorable. The place is riddled with drugs and violence. Warders are at constant risk. The more prisoners crammed into small spaces, the greater the risk of an explosion.