Call for additional funding to address prison overcrowding

Call for additional funding to address prison overcrowding

Saoirse Brady

Additional investment is required in prison and probation services to alleviate prison overcrowding and improve undignified conditions, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has said.

In its pre-budget submission, the NGO calls for, among other things, the allocation of an additional €5 million to the Probation Service to support greater use of community service orders and probation supervision.

It also calls for €2 million for the Irish Prison Service to facilitate improved family contact between people in prison and their families and children, as well as €1 million for addition counselling services and psychological services and €365,000 for a prison education allowance in line with European rules.

The organisation argues that supporting the families of people in prison, reintegrating women who have been in prison custody back into their communities, addressing healthcare needs across the areas of mental health and addiction and encouraging education in prison all reduce recidivism.

IPRT executive director Saoirse Brady said: “IPRT is concerned that the increasing prison population — and the current State response, namely to increase prison spaces — contravenes clear commitments in the government’s own Review of Policy Options for Prison and Penal Reform 2022-2024 to reduce the number of people serving short custodial sentences of 12 months or less.

“While we understand the need to provide capital infrastructure investment to update and improve the prison estate, Budget 2024 provides a timely opportunity to invest in practical measures that will help to alleviate the current situation of chronic prison overcrowding.

“It also provides an opportunity to invest in key supports to improve the lives of people currently in prison, those leaving prison as well as their families and children.”

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