Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Questions (190)

Michael McGrath

Question:

190. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in the situation where a person receives a custodial sentence and in the absence of a specific direction for the judge, the person who decides in which prison the convicted person will serve his or her sentence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32524/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am to inform the Deputy that in the absence of a specific prison on the committal warrant, designated prisons are associated with specific areas of the country. For example, all male persons committed to prison on remand, pending trial or under sentence of imprisonment or otherwise from any court in the county of Cork, the county borough of Cork, the county of Kerry, the county of Waterford or the county borough of Waterford are committed to Cork Prison unless otherwise stated. Other areas are associated to other prisons on a similar basis.

A guiding principle in the placement of prisoners is that they are detained in an institution as near to their homes as possible to facilitate visits from relatives and friends. Accommodation near their home, however, may not always be possible. For example, female prisoners can only be accommodated in the Dóchas Centre on the Mountjoy Campus in Dublin or in Limerick Prison. Pressures of space and security considerations are also taken into account, as is the need to keep certain prisoners apart from the general population for their own safety.

When a prisoner is committed to prison the management of the prisoner's sentence and any transfers take place on foot of administrative decisions made on my behalf. Every effort is made to balance the needs of the prisoner and the aim of providing an effective rehabilitative environment for as many prisoners as possible. In order to maximise the effectiveness of prison programmes, prisoners may move between different prisons at various points in their sentence.

Other common reasons for prisoner movements include court appearances, disruptive behaviour, conflict with other prisoners, to participate in a particular training or educational course, to assist in reintegration or to alleviate overcrowding. Factors taken into account include length of sentence, nature of offence, medical needs, drug dependency, behaviour while in custody, the age of the prisoner, previous criminal record, engagement with the various services and the availability of accommodation.