Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (557)

Jonathan O'Brien


569 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the proposed reduction in the standard prisoner gratuity, the steps he will put in place to ensure that no prisoner is exposed to undue hardship, particularly when the prisoner does not have family or other external financial support. [34860/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

I can advise the Deputy that a review of the prisoner gratuity payments and allowances system has been completed by the Irish Prison Service. The review covered all aspects of the current scheme including the daily allowance and approved work allowance.

On foot of this review it is proposed that three different levels of daily gratuity be introduced, with the rates being paid dependent on behaviour and level of engagement in structured activities and sentence plans. Under the proposal prisoners who are well behaved and engage actively with services should not see any substantive reduction in their gratuity payments. It is also proposed to regularise the payment of working gratuities across the prison estate and only activities where prisoners provide services, which would otherwise result in a cost to the prison service, such as catering and laundry, would qualify for the payment. I expect that the new scheme will be finalised shortly.

Prisoners, or their families, may be eligible for consideration for assistance from the Prisoner Assist Programme Fund, on hardship grounds.