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Home > Written answers - Prisoner rehabilitation programmes. [46792/12, 46793/12, 46794/12]

[Oireachtas] Written answers - Prisoner rehabilitation programmes. [46792/12, 46793/12, 46794/12]. (24 Oct 2012)


189. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners who made applications for access to training, education or other rehabilitative programmes in the various prisons throughout the country in each of the past five years to date in 2012; the extent to which he has been able to facilitate such applications; the number of applications that have been refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46792/12]

190. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to expand rehabilitation, education or training programmes throughout the prison service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46793/12]
191. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if any particular policy has been established whereby first time offenders in respect of drug related crime would automatically be referred for training and rehabilitation in order to prevent a commitment to a life of crime arising from the influence of peers who already had established recidivistic activities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46794/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 189 to 191, inclusive, together.


 As I have said before in response to previous Questions, the Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services.

The statistics requested are not readily available and would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort that could not be justified where there are other significant demands on resources. However, I can advise the Deputy that an average of 38% of the prison population attended educational classes in 2011. The development of vocational training programmes in recent years means that there are now over 100 workshops capable of catering for in excess of 1,000 prisoners each day. Returns at the end of August 2012 show that approximately 23% of the prison population were engaged in vocational training programmes. There was also a significant increase in the number of prisoners who participated in accredited vocational training course in 2011, when 1219 prisoners attended such courses.

On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral. Programmes are available to all prisoners but some programmes may not be suitable for prisoners on shorter sentences. The development of prisoner programmes forms a central part of the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015. There is a clear commitment in the Strategy to enhance sentence planning including Integrated Sentence Management and the delivery of prison based rehabilitative programmes such as education, work training and resettlement programmes.

There are a range of drug rehabilitation programmes available for prisoners which involve a significant multidimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and visiting statutory and non-statutory organisations. The programmes seek to reduce the demand for drugs  within the prison system through education, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug-addicted prisoners. Particular initiatives include, inter alia, the provision of detoxification, methadone maintenance, education programmes, addiction counselling and drug therapy programmes. The delivery of these services is being achieved in partnership with community based services and has brought a significant improvement in the range, quality and availability of drug treatment services in the prisons.

It is the policy of the Irish Prison Service that where a person committed to prison gives a history of opiate use and tests positive for opioids, they are offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification, if clinically indicated. There is no waiting list for a detox as there is no dependency on community place availability.

There is no waiting period for methadone maintenance. In line with Action 43 of the National Drug Strategy, the Irish Prison Service ensures the seamless transition of prisoners established on drug treatment from our care into community drug treatment settings as agreed in the protocol developed with the HSE. If the prisoner is on a community programme prior to committal to prison, the maintenance programme is continued during the prison term. Prior to a patient being commenced on methadone maintenance in prison, a drug treatment place in the community must be secured to ensure continuation of treatment upon release. Methadone substitution treatment is available in 9 of the 14 prisons and places of detention (accommodating over 80% of the prison population).
Dail Eireann Debate
Written Answers - Prisoner Rehabilitation Programmes
Wednesday, October 24 2012

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