Speaking at the prison officers annual delegate conference today John Clinton, General Secretary said, “It is with regret that I must once again raise the serious issue of overcrowding in our prisons. This return to the bad old days poses a threat to both prisoners and staff. We were working on the basis that this matter had been resolved, never to return, but this clearly is not the case”
Clinton continued, “Our members are once again working in overcrowded prisons, and dealing with all the related problems. The prison population has again reached a level where some are doubling, trebling and quadrupling occupancy in cells. Prisoners are again being forced to sleep on mattresses on cell floors and this is a totally unacceptable situation”.
“Once again prisoners are being moved from floor to floor and transferring from one prison to another without any centralized flow plan, which is sadly reminiscent of the 90’s. Mattresses are being put on floors in an all too familiar reminder of the nightmare scenarios of holding cells being packed to capacity”
Clinton then raises the issue on the closure of the Training Unit in Mountjoy – a loss of 90 to 100 beds. “This unit can be quickly renovated and reopened. The former Training Unit provided prisoners the opportunity to learn about going to work, an act many of us take for granted but for many of those who were inmates in the Training Unit it did not come naturally and became a learned function and a step towards a normal living environment”.
Clinton concluded, “We are asking the Minister to address this pending cycle of overcrowding by ensuring full capacity in our open centres and to reopen the Training Unit as a way on immediately and proactively dealing with the overcrowding issue.