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Fewer inmates locked in cells 23hrs each day

MOUNTJOY Prison has reduced the number of prisoners locked in their cells for up to 23 hours from 45 in July last year to just five in January.

Modernisation of Mountjoy is being cited as the reason behind a reduction in the requirement to lock up prisoners continuously.

However, there were still 30 prisoners confined to cells for 20 hours every day in January and a further ten for 19 hours.

SNIFFER

The annual reports from five prison committees were published yesterday and recommended that sniffer dogs be retrained in some instances and improvements have been noted in library services.

The Wheatfield committee recommended the training for dogs there after a number of prison visitors had been wrongly singled out for searches.

They also found a "vermin" problem caused by unsanitary waste disposal from cells.

The committee at the Training Unit said its members had grave concerns initially about the introduction of methadone treatment there but were since satisfied it was working successfully.

Some of the committees also expressed concern about drug problems behind bars.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said efforts were ongoing to prevent the flow of drugs into prisons but acknowledged that constant improvements were needed in this area.

Many of the committees highlighted issues relating to library services for prisoners.

A number of trusted prisoners have signed up to help newer inmates in the nation's jails gain greater access to books, the reviews outlined.

Staff shortages in the libraries of some jails have been identified by their prison visiting committees and, in response to the complaints, an outside librarian has been hired on contract to train up the chosen prisoners in areas where the service is not fully operational.

The Mountjoy committee said a library was an integral part of rehabilitation programmes there and noted that the demand for the service had increased during the year.

hnews@herald.ie


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