Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (542)

Jonathan O'Brien


554 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time prisoners are being held on 23 hour lock up regime; the longest period in which they may be held like this; if there are any limits on the period for which a prisoner can be held on 23 hour lock up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34845/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

I am to advise the Deputy that the status of each and every prisoner subject to a restricted regime within the prison system is regularly reviewed. Prisoners who have been removed from general association because of their being a significant threat to the maintenance of good order (Rule 62 of the Prison Rules 2007) are subject to regular reviews during which the reason or reasons for their removal from general association are provided to the prisoner. The prisoners are allowed an opportunity to express their views, which are also recorded, and are then taken into consideration. There is no limit on the period for which a prisoner can be held under rule 62 of the Prison Rules 2007. However the Director General is required to consider the facts associated with these cases every 7 days and must give approval if this type of restricted regime is to continue.

Persons under protective custody (Rule 63) must be interviewed and reviewed by prison management each month. The findings and comments of the prisoners are recorded each and every month along with the decision of the Governor and the reasons why this Rule is being applied. The Deputy will appreciate the overriding responsibility that the Prison Service has in relation to the provision of safe and secure custody and that there are a small number of prisoners who must serve their sentence or part thereof without contact from other prisoners for very specific reasons.