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Prisons gave inmates €19m pocket money

convicted criminals have been paid almost €19m in pocket money by the State while serving time in Irish prisons during the past five years.

Every inmate receives a daily cash allowance that can be used to buy items from the prison shop or saved up for use following their release.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that €18,922,294 was paid to detainees of the State's 14 penal institutions since 2009.

behaviour

Prior to 2013, all inmates were entitled to a flat-rate payment of €2.35 a day. However, the system has been reformed to provide for three levels of payment to incentivise good behaviour in prisons.

A standard rate of €1.70 a day now applies, but this is increased to €2.20 a day if a prisoner is compliant and can be reduced to 95c a day for bad behaviour.

Prisoners who participate in cleaning or maintenance duties can earn an additional €1 a day on top of their basic allowance.

The money can be spent on items from the prison tuck shop such as cigarettes or magazines. It can also be accumulated and paid on release.

As part of last year's reform, prisoners are charged 15c a day for television rental. This can be paid for from the daily allowance.

An average of €3.8m a year has been spent by the Irish Prison Service in providing pocket money to inmates since 2009.

Mountjoy Prison, with an operational capacity of 540, doled out the highest amount. Prisoners there have received €3.4m over the past five years.

Inmates of the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise were paid €2.6m during the same period, while prisoners at Wheatfield and Cloverhill received €2.5m and €1.9m respectively.

Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon, which holds 340, paid its prisoners €1.4m, slightly higher than Limerick (€1.2m) and Cork (€1.1m).

The institution with the lowest total spend was Shelton Abbey in Co Wicklow. The low-security institution, which has a capacity of 115, paid €591,537 in pocket money during the five-year period.

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