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Each prison is limited to a maximum prisoner population of 250.
Smaller prisons have the potential to reflect community life more closely and reduce the likelihood of violence. They can also help facilitate the development of positive staff–prisoner relationships.
There has been no change to the size of prisons across the estate in 2018–2019. Building projects have progressed; for example, the redevelopment of Limerick Prison is due for completion and expected to be operational in the second half of 2021. This will provide for an additional 90 spaces for male prisoners in Limerick prisons and a total of 40 spaces for female prisoners, as well as eight transition or independent living units for females. This will result in an increase in the size of Limerick Prison.
Indicator S4.1: Maximum prison population of prisons.
Only six prisons meet the ideal standard maximum size of 250. However, two of these are women’s prisons and two are open prisons; arguably, given the particular cohort and type of prison concerned, these should be even smaller in size. The only other prisons that currently meet the target are Arbour Hill and Limerick Prison (male section). By comparison, in Norway, the average prison size is 70 and the smallest prison size caters for 15 prisoners.
Rescaled is a social movement launched in April 2019 advocating for small-scale detention in Europe. The aim of Rescaled is to work towards replacing prisons and support the implementation of detention houses. The project’s vision identifies that replacing prisons with detention houses would greatly improve the reintegration of prisoners, with people remaining members of the community (rather than being placed in a closed prison). It provides a three-step argument for detention houses, summarised below.
|Action 4.1:||The Department of Justice and Equality and the IPS should consider piloting a small detention house, and match this with a reduction in capacity of the current closed prison estate.|
Following review, the standard has been changed to a maximum of 250 prisoners, to which IPRT believes all prisons should aspire.
IPS (2019), Annual Report 2018, p.53, https://www.irishprisons.ie/wp-content/uploads/documents_pdf/Annual-Report-2018.pdf.
Department of Justice and Equality (2019), ‘Parliamentary Questions, PQ 343, 2 July 2019’, http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-02-07-2019-343.
Information received by IPS on the 11/09/19.
The current maximum population is set out in IPS (2019) Annual Report 2018, https://www.irishprisons.ie/information-centre/statistics-information/2015-daily-prisoner-population/2019-prison-populations/.
Kriminalomsorgen, About the Norwegian Correctional Service (see ‘Organization’), https://www.kriminalomsorgen.no/information-in-english.265199.no.html.
See Rescaled, Movement for Small Scale Detention, www.rescaled.net.