Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 15 Oct 1996

Vol. 470 No. 1

Written Answers. - Prisoners' Visiting Arrangements.

Brendan Kenneally


83 Mr. Kenneally asked the Minister for Justice the plans, if any, she has to terminate physical contact between visitors and prisoners during visiting time in prison; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18409/96]

The arrangements which are currently in place in the prisons provide for the conduct of visits generally, and allow only minimal physical contact between visitors and prisoners. The Deputy will, however, appreciate, that the category of prisoners held throughout the system varies greatly in several respects. A certain proportion of prisoners are, of course, not convicted. Among the sentenced population, there is a wide variation in terms of sentence length, criminal background, drug history, etc. To impose closed visits prohibiting all physical contact in every case would cause undue hardship, particularly in the case of prisoners with young families. In addition, such arrangements would be inappropriate and impractical in the open prisons.

I can, however, assure the Deputy that in all cases where a serious identifiable security risk exists or the passing of contraband such as illegal drugs is suspected, visits are conducted under the strictest conditions, without any physical contact between visitors and prisoners. We also have in all closed institutions supervision of visiting time both by staff and in some instances cameras which are being used effectively to reduce passing of drugs etc.