Helen McEntee under pressure from Fine Gael over prisons’ capacity to fight crime


Minister of Justice Helen McEntee has been urged by her own party to ensure that prison places are increased amid a sweeping crackdown on crime.

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said prison numbers have increased in recent years and the government needs to ensure adequate prison capacity to ensure the safety of communities, prisoners and prison guards.

“To keep our communities and our prisons safe, it is vital that our justice system is fully operational,” the Dublin Rathdown TD said.

“To do this we need to ensure we have sufficient capacity in our prisons to ensure they are safe environments for inmates but also to ensure our communities are safe and offenders are held accountable as quickly as possible to be pulled.”

Mr Richmond said Ireland has more than 3,980 people in prison and the World Prison Brief estimates Irish prisons are currently operating at 90.7 per cent capacity.

“Although our prisons have not yet reached capacity, the number of detainees is increasing,” he added.

“With a 44 percent increase from 2,763 in 1999 to 3,971 in 2019, we need to ensure capacity is secured.”

He said Ms McEntee is now pushing ahead with reforms to ensure tougher sentences for serious crimes, so there must be enough capacity in prisons to ensure capacity is not a factor in deciding sentences.

“The safety of our communities must come first, and this is recognized by Secretary McEntee, who has confirmed that 220 new prison places will open by the end of the year,” Richmond said.

“While this is an important and very welcome first step, any increase in prison capacity must be maintained and monitored to ensure that overcrowding does not occur in the future.

“Overcrowded prisons endanger prisoners and our prison officials, and negatively impact efforts to promote the rehabilitation of convicted criminals.”

The Fine Gael TD said that with Ireland’s prison services upcoming capital strategy for 2023, everything must be done to ensure sufficient capacity in prisons for people to feel safe in their homes and communities across Ireland.

“The government needs to make prison capacity a priority,” he concluded. Helen McEntee under pressure from Fine Gael over prisons’ capacity to fight crime

Fry Electronics Team

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