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Prisoners' pay is cut in new cash save drive

PRISONERS are to feel the pain of austerity with cutbacks in their daily cash allowances.

The restructuring of their gratuities is aimed at saving around €430,000 a year, according to the Irish Prison Service.

A new scheme with basic, standard and enhanced levels is to be created.

In a new "carrot and stick approach", prisoners will be rewarded if they "tick all the boxes", the IPS Director Michael Donnellan disclosed.

The system has been suggested in the past by the Prison Officers Association, on the basis that those who refuse to work with the system currently get the same as those who do.

Wheatfield Prison has a scheme in its infancy under which prisoners can earn an extra visit or an extra phone call.

But the new scheme, to cover all institutions, will see a graded structure of gratuities.

At present, all prisoners get €2.35 a day.

The new system, expected within a month, will see a basic rate of €1.10 a day, a standard rate of €1.85 and the enhanced rate of €2.35.

A reduction of 15 cent a day already applies to this figure for the provision of a TV, and a further 15 cents is to be deducted for a phone call.

In addition to this allowance, trustee prisoners who work, clean, paint, cook or do other chores will earn an extra €1 a day. Mr Donnellan said that the scheme was aimed at rewarding those who worked with the system.

To attain the enhanced level payment, prisoners will have to be drug-free and take part in the educational and other programs available.

He anticipated that the enhanced level could allow for further bonuses.

He said, for example, a foreign national might be permitted to a Skype call to his family abroad.