Tuesday, 31 January 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
456. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on transferring a person (details supplied) in County Wexford from Mountjoy to Portlaoise or Shelton Abbey to ensure that they will no longer have easy access to heroin; if addiction treatment will be available to this person while they are incarcerated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2764/06]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): The person referred to is serving cumulative sentences totalling 14 months for burglary, assault and threatening-abusive behaviour. He is at present due for release from prison on 3 August 2006.
I recently approved a transfer to the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise for this prisoner. I am not prepared to authorise a transfer to either Shelton Abbey or Portlaoise Prison. As I have repeatedly stated, no level of illegal drug consumption in a prison setting is acceptable to me or to the prison authorities. It is my intention and that of the Irish Prison Service to take all necessary measures to eliminate drug misuse among prisoners. There are currently a range of measures employed in the Irish Prison Service with the aim of eliminating both the supply of and the demand for drugs within the prison system. These measures continue to be updated and reinforced and the new drugs policy for the Prison Service, which I will very shortly publish, will again outline my personal commitment to tackling this problem.
Measures to curtail the supply of drugs into prisons, include video surveillance, improved visiting-searching facilities and increased vigilance by staff. Netting has been installed over the recreation yards in a number of our closed prisons, to prevent contraband material, such as drugs, being propelled over exterior walls. Future prison designs will seek to locate recreation yards away from perimeter walls as part of further efforts to frustrate the supply of illegal drugs.
Measures to reduce the demand for drugs within the prison system include education, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicted offenders. These programmes and interventions are delivered on an individual and co-ordinated basis by the psychology service, probation and welfare service, prison education service and prison officers. Particular initiatives put in place include drug free areas, drug misuse awareness programmes, support programmes and appropriate health interventions, substitution therapies, vaccination programmes and treatment for viral illnesses. When introduced, mandatory drug testing will play an important role in the overall strategy for tackling the scourge of drug use among prisoners. It will enable identification and referral of drug abusers to treatment programmes, enable enhanced focusing of resources and act as a deterrent to drug misuse.
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