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Connolly, Johnny (2009) Irish Prison Service annual report 2007. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 29, Spring 2009 , p. 27.

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 The Irish Prison Service (IPS) annual report for 2007 details developments in drug supply reduction measures, rehabilitation and treatment services to prisoners during 2007.1

Sentenced committals for drug offences increased by 34%, from 395 (6.5% of total offences) in 2006 to 530 (8.2% of total offences) in 2007.  These figures do not include people who were imprisoned for drug-related offences, such as economic acquisitive crimes committed to support a drug habit. Given the clear link between drug use and economically motivated crime, it can be assumed that many of those imprisoned for property offences were problematic drug users. Of the 530 offenders sentenced for drug offences, 267 received prison sentences of up to one year, 241 received sentences from one to 10 years and 22 received sentences of more than 10 years.
 
Section 36 of the Prisons Act 2007, which came into operation on 1 May 2007, makes it an offence for prisoners to have unauthorised possession or use of mobile phones. Phones are viewed by the prison authorities and the Garda Síochána as contributing to illegal activity outside the prison. It is reported that by the end of 2007 more than 2,124 mobile phones had been seized in Irish prisons.  Other supply reduction measures reported included: 
  • New prison visiting arrangements whereby only identified and known persons are allowed to visit prisoners, 'reducing the likelihood of visitors attempting to pass drugs, and of prisoners being coerced into receiving visits from persons not known to them to facilitate the passing of drugs' (p.25);
  • Enhanced perimeter security involving improved netting and closer co-operation with the Garda Síochána to arrest and prosecute persons attempting to convey drugs into prisons;
  • Improved technology for searching cells and prison property;
  • The introduction of drug detection dogs;
  • The establishment of an Operational Support Group dedicated to developing expertise in searching and intelligence gathering.
 Measures advanced during 2007 to enhance drug rehabilitation included:
  • The awarding of a contract for the provision of addiction counsellor services;
  • The allocation of additional nurse officers and prison officers to dedicated drug treatment teams;
  • The provision of funding to community groups to provide addiction counselling and support to prisoners while in prison and on their release in the community.
The IPS also reports that 'Considerable work was undertaken during the year in consultation with practitioners at local prison level to draft a Drug Treatment Clinical Policy document to provide guidance to practitioners regarding various clinical issues that may arise in treating addiction in a prison context' (p. 26).
 
As shown in Table 1, nine prisons provided methadone treatment to 1,840 prisoners in 2007, of whom 185 were receiving methadone for the first time. It is noteworthy that methadone treatment was not provided in two large prisons, namely Cork and Castlerea.
 
Table 1   Numbers of individuals receiving methadone treatment* in Irish prisons in 2007
Prison
Total patients during 2007
New patients in 2007
Patients  at
31 December 2007
Cloverhill Prison
710
124
176
Dochas Centre
225
26
38
Limerick Prison
10
0
3
Midlands Prison
90
8
30
Mountjoy Main Prison
474
9
112
Mountjoy Prison Medical Unit
120
8
53
Portlaoise Prison
3
1
1
St Patrick’s Institution
15
0
6
Wheatfield Prison
193
9
90
Total
1840
185
509
*Methadone treatment in this context is either substitution or detoxification.
Source: IPS (2008)
1. Irish Prison Service (2008) Annual report 2007. Longford: Irish Prison Service.

 

Item Type
Article
Issue Title
Issue 29, Spring 2009
Date
2009
Page Range
p. 27
Publisher
Health Research Board
Volume
Issue 29, Spring 2009
EndNote
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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