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Press Release: Bacik Condemns Prison Overcrowding

15 October 2009


Senator for Dublin UniversityPanel

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Speaking in the Seanad today, Senator Ivana Bacik expressed strong concern at reports that the number of prisoners in Ireland has exceeded 4,000 for the first time in the history of the State.

Calling for an urgent debate on prisons, Senator Bacik said:

    “We are dehumanising and brutalising the populations in our prisons by subjecting them to the inhumane conditions caused by chronic overcrowding. If you could see the conditions in Mountjoy Men's Prison, in particular, as I have done many times on visits there, you would be appalled. Men in Mountjoy are forced to sleep and spend long waking periods locked into cells, sometimes six to a cell – cells designed for one or at most two people – and to engage in toilet functions or ‘slopping out' in front of their cellmates.”

Calling on other Senators to visit Mountjoy Prison to see the brutal conditions there for themselves, Senator Bacik said:

    “Clearly we need an urgent debate on prisons; not just on reform of conditions in prisons, but on why we are sending so many people to prison for minor non-violent offences and even non-payment of fines. The proposed building of the 100s of extra prison places at Thornton Hall, or “McDowell's Folly”, will not solve the crisis in our prisons – it will merely lead to more people being sent to prison unnecessarily.”