Women still sleeping on floors in Limerick Prison

The new Limerick Womens Prison is nearing completion.

PRISONERS in Limerick are sleeping on mattresses on the floor, with the Women’s Prison badly overcrowded at 164 per cent of capacity.

According to the latest report from the Irish Prison Service (IPS), there are 46 female prisoners in the Mulgrave Street women’s wing of the jail, which is intended to accommodate 28.

There were 249 men in the male wing, despite there being just 210 beds, bringing capacity there to 119 per cent.

Last November it was confirmed that prisoners of the women’s wing slept on floors more than 200 times in the preceding months.

The total figures in last week’s IPS report include prisoners who may be on temporary release as they are coming to the end of their sentence and prisoners who are temporarily absent for hospital treatment.

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The figures show that every prison in the country has now reached 100 per cent capacity.

The Irish Prison Service has said that, as of Tuesday, there were  4,408 people in custody countrywide and 120 prisoners sleeping on mattresses across the Irish Prison Service estate.

The Irish Prison Reform Trust (IRPT) has expressed grave concerns about the situation

IRPT Acting Executive Director, Molly Joyce, said: “The Government have indicated that they are committed to exploring the policy of ‘prison as a last resort’ through providing alternatives to prison such as community based sanctions, where appropriate.”

“The policy position is there, but we can see by the growth in numbers of people in prison that the policy is far from reality on the ground.”

In a statement, the Irish Prison Service said it “must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts. As such, it has no control over the numbers committed to custody at any given time, and the prison system is subject to peaks and troughs.”

“The Government has provided significant capital funding to the Irish Prison Service in order to enhance the existing prison infrastructure.

“The commissioning of a new male and female prison accommodation in Limerick Prison will provide an additional 90 male spaces and 22 additional female cell spaces.

“This new male accommodation is now partially open and the female accommodation is expected to become operational before the end of March.”