LIMERICK’S new €53 million women’s prison, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of summer, will incorporate a number of elements to help women prisoners reintegrate back into society.
Speaking in the Dáil last week, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that construction of the new women’s prison forms part of a major redevelopment project currently underway at Limerick Prison.
The contract was awarded in February 2019 and construction is anticipated to be completed in the second quarter of this year. This will be followed by the installation and commissioning of the various security and safety systems with the new facility expected to be operational between the second and third quarters of this year.
“This timeline assumes no further impact on construction activity or supply chain issues due to the pandemic,” Minister McEntee added.
“The new women’s prison will provide accommodation for 50 female prisoners and is a core element of the redevelopment project.
“The design concept for the new women’s prison was influenced by best practice in prison design and similar rehabilitation facilities found in Scandinavia and it will have perimeter security features associated with medium level security, as it forms part of the overall prison site.
“It will differ in many respects to the current prison, having been designed around the principles of normalisation, progression and rehabilitation, underpinned by a therapeutic environment to support women in prison to reintegrate back into society on completion of their sentence.
“A mix of accommodation is being provided comprising bedrooms units, some apartment style units, a mother and baby unit with the accommodation based is around an external landscaped courtyard setting in keeping with the design principles on creating a safe therapeutic space and supportive regime.
“In addition, the new female prison will also provide improved facilities for families visiting. When commissioned the new facility will represent a sea change in the standard of accommodation and rehabilitative supports for female prisoners.
“The Prison Service is acutely aware of the importance of assisting prisoners to maintain close contact with their children while in custody.
“In order to protect the prison population from the risk of Covid, a number of infection control measures were introduced. Regrettably, this included the suspension of physical visits to prisoners for extended periods of time. The Prison Service introduced a new video visit system to ensure that prisoners could continue to have visual contact with their families.
“Limerick Prison has a Tusla approved and award winning visitors area and the Prison Service work closely with care workers, the courts and Tusla to provide access visits where appropriate,” Minister McEntee added.