Written Answers. - Prison Occupancy.

Ivor Callely

Question:

127 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Justice the percentage occupancy of our prison capacity for the months of January 1997, February 1997 and March 1997; if she will give comparative figures for December 1996; and if she has satisfied herself in this regard. [9294/97]

For management purposes maximum capacity figures have been calculated for all prisons and places of detention based on the number of prisoners it is considered appropriate in current circumstances to hold in those places. These maximum figures include provision for quite high levels of doubling up in cells without integral sanitation at Mountjoy, Limerick and Cork. Where cells or units are taken out of commission for renovation purposes, the relevant accommodation is taken out of the calculation of maximum capacity. Occupancy figures are provided below as requested, based on capacity figures as thus defined.

Month

Average Percentage Occupancy

December 1996

99.4

January 1997

97.4

February 1997

101.7

March 1997

103.7

As the Deputy will be aware, the extensive prisons building programme which I have initiated will, when complete, provide over 800 extra prison places, thereby reducing the current deficit in prison accommodation and alleviating over-crowding.