Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 10 Jun 1970

Vol. 68 No. 7

Prisons Bill, 1970: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This short and, I think, non-controversial Bill has three objects. The first and main object is to authorise the establishment of places other than prisons to help in the rehabilitation of offenders. The second object is to reduce the upper age limit for offenders who may be committed by the courts to St. Patrick's Institution from 21 to 19. The third is to enable offenders detained in St. Patrick's to be transferred to prison during any periods of overcrowding that may occur.

Section 2 of the Bill gives legislative approval to the "open" centre at Shanganagh. County Dublin, which was opened in August, 1968. This centre is for the detention of selected young offenders transferred to it from St. Patrick's Institution, North Circular Road, Dublin or from the prisons. It is the first "open" centre to be established here. Since its establishment, the transfer of offenders from St. Patrick's or the prisons to Shanganagh has been on the basis that the offenders are temporarily released subject to a condition that they reside in Shanganagh and comply with the requirements of the person in charge there. All in all, this arrangement has worked satisfactorily but it has some disadvantages, not the least of which is that a visiting committee cannot be appointed to Shanganagh.

Section 2 is expressed in terms which would authorise the setting up of other places of the same kind. It would cover, for example, the establishment of an open institution for adult offenders or a hostel or hostels within the community, rather than inside prison, to accommodate offenders on temporary release to employment. There is, however, no immediate intention of establishing any institution other than that already in operation in Shanganagh. There is a good deal of work to be carried out there before its full potential is realised. Much as I would like to provide a wider spectrum of institutions for the rehabilitation of various categories of offenders, it seems to me that the better course is to concentrate on completing the equipment of Shanganagh with proper facilities and observing the results before embarking on the provision of other types of institutions whose rehabilitative value has in many cases still to be conclusively determined.

Now, a word about Shanganagh itself. It has extensive grounds, there is adequate provision for games and recreation, and formal restrictions are deliberately kept to a minimum so as to foster a sense of responsibility and self-control. It has accommodation for 55 youths and the whole system is designed to encourage and assist the boys who are sent there to organise and control their own lives along proper lines. A good deal of experimentation is still going on and a full programme of training will not be possible until permanent workshops have been erected. Those workshops, which are scheduled for erection this year, will provide facilities for instruction in metal work and plumbing, car maintenance and repair, electrical repairs, building construction and painting, papering and glazing.

Section 3 of the Bill deals with the regulations which may be made by the Minister for Justice under the Bill. They are of two kinds. First of all, under subsection (1) the Minister is empowered to prescribe the age limits and the sex of persons who may be detained in places provided under the Bill. As regards these regulations, my intention is to prescribe age limits of 16 to 21 for Shanganagh.

Then, there are the regulations which may be made under subsection (2). These will deal with the management of these places. Here I should, perhaps, make it clear that there will be no question of applying prison rules to Shanganagh. Indeed the regulations I shall make will be as simple and flexible as possible consistent with the necessity for formally establishing guidelines as to what the purpose of the training and treatment of the boys there really is.

Section 4 applies the existing enactments relating to prisons and St. Patrick's Institution to places established under section 2 of the Bill. It is under this provision, for example, that a visiting committee will be appointed. The proviso at the end of the section is intended to ensure that the courts will not have power to commit offenders directly to Shanganagh. With "open" centres of this kind it is essential that an opportunity be provided to determine the suitability of offenders for "open" conditions. This cannot normally be done until an interval has elapsed to enable the behaviour of the offender in custody and the general background reports to be evaluated.

Indeed, notwithstanding the selection procedure which is operated at present in relation to the transfer of boys to Shanganagh, it has happened on a few occasions that after arriving at Shanganagh boys have had to be sent back to a closed institution because they could not resist the temptation to abscond. Even with conditions of overcrowding in St. Patrick's Institution, it has been found difficult, at times, to find a sufficient number of boys who could be depended on to stay in Shanganagh and to benefit from the regime there.

Section 5 deals with the machinery of transferring offenders to and from these places. It will be observed that the section does not enable the Minister to transfer from Shanganagh to prison an offender who was originally sentenced to detention in St. Patrick's Institution. Where such an offender has to be sent from Shanganagh to a closed institution, he may be returned only to St. Patrick's or to another "open" institution.

It has always been the law that persons sentenced to detention in St. Patrick's may not be transferred to prison unless they are reported by the visiting committee to be incorrigible or to be exercising a bad influence on the other inmates. As the boys selected for Shanganagh could not be said to come into these categories I think there should be no question of their being sent to prison if for some reason they have to be transferred out of Shanganagh.

Up to now I have been dealing with the establishment of places like Shanganagh and the various provisions specifying who may go there, how they are to be treated and so on. Section 6 stands on its own as a straightforward provision reducing the age of committal to St. Patrick's Institution from 21 to 19 years. I think it is necessary to make it clear why this provision is being introduced. It has been suggested that it might have been included simply to relieve the overcrowding which, unfortunately, has been experienced for limited periods in St. Patrick's during the past few years and that Shanganagh is being used as a kind of overflow from St. Patrick's to ease the congestion there. Both suggestions are unfounded.

The reason for reducing the maximum age limit to 19 is simply that some of the older inmates in St. Patrick's are liable to have a bad influence on some of the younger ones. Of course not all of the 19 to 21s are in this category, just as not all of the 16 to 18s are inexperienced. What the section proposes is that the courts will no longer be able to send persons of 19 to 21 directly to St. Patrick's but —and I would like to stress this—the Minister for Justice will still have power to transfer persons in the 19 to 21 age group from prison to St. Patrick's where he considers that they might with advantage be detained in that institution.

The object of the provision is, in short, to ensure that the rehabilitative influences in St. Patrick's will not be undermined by the presence of experienced criminals who might have a contaminating influence on others. Clearly any reduction of this kind in the maximum age of committal is bound to have some effect on the numbers but I would expect that a fair number of the less sophisticated offenders in the 19 to 21 category would be suitable for transfer from prison to St. Patrick's after the section comes into operation.

Incidentally, the section will not be brought into operation until certain reconstruction work at Mountjoy Prison has been completed. This work is necessary to ensure proper accommodation and segregation for the increased number of young offenders who may be committed there after the section comes into force.

This brings me to section 7. This section, too, will not come into force when the Bill becomes law. It will operate only during periods of overcrowding and, before the Minister may make an order bringing it into operation, he must consult with the visiting committee to St. Patrick's Institution as to whether a situation of overcrowding exists and for how long it is expected to continue. Provision is also made that the Minister may, during the currency of such an order—again after consultation with the visiting committee-amend or revoke the order.

Subject to these provisions, the section empowers the Minister to relieve any overcrowding which may arise from time to time in St. Patrick's by transferring some offenders from it to prison but he is authorised, by virtue of subsection (3) of the section, to transfer those offenders or some of them, as may be appropriate, back to St. Patrick's when the overcrowding eases. I should like to emphasise that I regard the powers which are sought here to relieve overcrowding as nothing more than a purely temporary solution and as being less objectionable than what has had to be done in the past on such occasions, namely, releasing offenders from St. Patrick's before their sentences had expired in order to make way for fresh committals.

The reduction in the maximum age for committal to St. Patrick's proposed in section 6 will provide some measure of relief when it comes into operation. It may be, too, that the present high level of committals to St. Patrick's will taper off, though it must be said that such a development would be contrary to a worldwide trend. Further accommodation in St. Patrick's will be available when the women's prison which adjoins it is moved to the place of detention at Marlborough House, Glasnevin, which is expected to be closed before the end of the year. Such a transfer cannot be expected to take place for a few years yet as Marlborough House will have to be demolished and a new women's prison built in its place. In these circumstances, I am continuing the search for a suitable site for a new St. Patrick's convenient to Dublin, though I need hardly say that the cost of acquiring a site and providing a modern institution on it is bound to be very considerable.

I have endeavoured to give a general explanation of the objects of the Bill and of the effect of its various provisions. I hope the House will accept it as a practical measure which is an earnest of the effort we are making, within our limited resources, to provide for the rehabilitation of the members of our society who have repeatedly come up against the criminal law. It makes, I believe, a useful addition to our legislation in this field but I do not regard it as by any means the final legislative word on the treatment of offenders, whether institutionally or otherwise. Accordingly, on the basis that the Bill is a useful and practical step forward, I ask the House to give it a Second Reading.

So far as the principles of this Bill are concerned the Minister will certainly have the approval of this House. As I see it, this Bill contains two principles and three objects to which the Minister has referred. The first object, which I also regard as a principle, is in connection with the legal authority for the establishment of institutions such as Shanganagh. The second is with regard to the reduction of the age limit for committal to St. Patrick's. The third object is not, I hope, regarded by the Minister in any sense as a principle—it is the authority in cases of periods of overcrowding to transfer prisoners or inmates from St. Patrick's to prison.

So far as the principles of this Bill are concerned I certainly support them. I have definite reservations with regard to the manner in which it is proposed to implement those principles so far as the particular drafting of this Bill is concerned. I would certainly suggest to the Minister the desirability of amending the wording of certain sections of the Bill.

The Minister has described in general terms the operation of the "open" centre at Shanganagh. He has mentioned the fact that it has been possible to operate this "open" centre on the basis of releasing prisoners from St. Patrick's and, I think, other institutions also. It has been operated on the basis of releasing prisoners conditionally, the condition being that they take up residence in Shanganagh. As the Minister pointed out the fact that authority for the operation of Shanganagh as a place of detention did not exist under our legislation and the fact that it was not being operated under the ordinary prison code in the same way as, say, Mountjoy, Portlaoise or St. Patrick's was being operated, meant that it did suffer some disadvantages, one being the fact that a visiting committee could not be attached to it.

I feel that the experiment—if we may call it that—of Shanganagh is one that was well worth making and that it is well worth encouraging.

Hear, hear.

I feel also it would be well worth the while of the Minister and his Department to engage their attention seriously with a view to expanding this kind of "open" centre prison service. I am somewhat disappointed by the Minister's remarks which, rightly or wrongly, I interpret as meaning that at least for the present there are no plans in his Department to expand this type of service.

The Shanganagh centre is selective in the sense that it is used only for the accommodation of suitable offenders from St. Patrick's or from other prisons. There is a degree of selectivity in deciding who will be sent there. It is necessary that that should be so and the fact that it is necessary that it should be so is, as the Minister pointed out, a very sound answer to the argument that district justices and the Bench generally should be entitled to sentence a youthful offender directly to committal to the Shanganagh "open" centre. The Minister has been wise in adopting the attitude that the court will not be allowed to commit a person directly to Shanganagh because a certain amount of screening, which cannot be done in court, must be done before a person, on this selective basis, is regarded as a suitable person for accommodation at Shanganagh.

In the Shanganagh "open" centre the whole atmosphere, as I understand it, is one of trust. The system operating there at the moment is based on an atmosphere of trust; the ordinary prison supervision does not exist in the same close sense as it exists in other prisons. I understand that neither the inmates nor the staff are required to wear a uniform and that there are adequate facilities for games and recreation. This house was originally Coláiste Móbhí and there are extensive grounds there. I feel that the situation of the place and the atmosphere that pervades it, and which was deliberately intended to pervade it, encourage the idea of rehabilitation of the offender rather than emphasise unduly the question of punishment. The whole set-up is designed, as the Minister has made clear, to foster a sense of responsibility and self-control on the part of the offender.

This can be regarded as an experiment but provided the experiment continues to be a success I should like to see the Minister making up his mind firmly to go in for an extension of that system. The number that can be catered for in Shanganagh is something between 50 and 60. It might be worthwhile considering other ventures of the same sort both on the basis of having smaller hostels or institutions based roughly on the Sanganagh system and possibly even larger ones. The money which would be required for this sort of development I personally think would be money well worth-spending. There are few things more important for any generation than to cater in a proper way for the education and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. There is a responsibility on each generation in its own time to consider this question and see what can be done about it. There is nothing more tragic than to see a young person going wrong and being allowed to go wrong because he is mishandled in the home or, when he gets into trouble, mishandled in a clumsy way by officialdom and authority. I must say also that I am in favour of the kind of humane approach, the corrective rehabilitative approach, which is part and parcel of the Shanganagh make-up.

The second object—and I regard this also as a principle—of the Bill is the proposal to reduce the upper age limit for offenders committed by the court to St. Patrick's Institution from 21 to 19. I again support this principle. I think that the arguments which the Minister set out in his statement to the House are valid. Between the 16 and 21 age groups there is a very great difference and a very great variation, particularly when viewed from the point of a person who might still in some sense be regarded as of reasonably tender years who gets into trouble for the first time, and who if he is dealt with properly is unlikely to get into trouble again for the rest of his life. At that period in his life a difference of four or five years is enormous. If such a person is lumped in with persons who might be not merely older but might be in early manhood and might already have established themselves as habitual offenders instead of getting into trouble once only, he may under bad influence become a habitual offender.

I do not think that the Minister would claim, and I certainly do not claim, that the mere reduction from 21 to 19 will necessarily entirely eliminate that risk, but I think that it is a step which eliminates it to some extent. It does, however, create a headache, and I do not think that at the moment the Minister has an answer to it. It necessarily implies that in future once this Bill is enacted persons in the 19 to 21 age group instead of being committed to St. Patrick's Institution must be sentenced to prison. This is one of the weaknesses I see in the Bill.

They can be sent back.

I know that they can be sent back, and I will have something to say about sending them to and fro when I come to deal with particular sections of the Bill. I know that the Minister is quite right there but, I if may just deal with it in a quick way, the problem at present or for some time past which has been facing the authorities in relation to St. Patrick's Institution has been one of overcrowding, and it does not seem to me to be very likely in the immediate future that if fortuitously—because I accept fully what the Minister says on this provision, that it is not designed as a measure to relieve overcrowding—as a result of this provision overcrowding is relieved, the Minister would then invite overcrowding by transferring too many back from prison to St. Patrick's when they are sentenced by the court to go to prison. So that the difficulty I see here is that notwithstanding the authority which would be vested in the Minister to transfer back, so far as the court is concerned once this Bill becomes law the court will then have no option at all so far as the 19 to 21 age group is concerned. They will have to be sent to prison. They cannot be sent to St. Patrick's Institution. To my mind the only real solution for this—and possibly it is financial shortage which prevents its being put into operation—is to have a separate establishment to cater for the 19 to 21 age group. If that were done I certainly would then feel fairly happy about this provision in the Bill.

As I mentioned, there is a section being set up in Mountjoy to keep the 19 to 21 age group separate from the other adult prisoners.

I accept that, and I think that it is right that that should be done, but I am sure that the Minister both as a lawyer and in connection with the study of this particular problem as Minister will be aware of the fairly widespread view that the correct way to deal with juveniles and with juvenile institutions of detention is to have them segregated completely from the ordinary prisons. While as, if you like, an emergency measure it may be desirable to use Mountjoy and to set aside a separate section to cater for the 19-21 age group I do not think it is the ideal solution. The only effective way would be an entirely new institution, or an entirely separate institution in any event, for that age group. However, I agree in principle with the idea of removing the older inmates from St. Patrick's, but I am somewhat worried about doing it in a situation where the only alternative so far as they are concerned is a sentence by the court to imprisonment notwithstanding what the Minister says with regard to having a separate section.

The third problem to which the Minister referred is that of overcrowding at St. Patrick's and the power to be given to him under section 7 of this Bill to order the transfer of inmates in cases of overcrowding from St. Patrick's to prison. I can appreciate the pragmatism behind this move as I can appreciate that it may be a matter of actual physical necessity from time to time that the Minister should have this authority. However, I do not like the way in which this authority is being given in the Bill and if the Minister does not see fit to put down amendments setting out certain guidelines in relation to transfers that he may make, I shall put down such amendments.

It is true that the Minister can transfer prisoners only after consultation with the visiting committee but in his statement to us today, the Minister has made it clear that the consultations which he is to have with the visiting committee will be limited to consultations on the question of whether overcrowding as a problem exists and as to the probable duration of that overcrowding problem. Other factors are necessary in this regard. There should be some age qualification for a transfer. As section 7 stands, it would not matter whether the inmate at St. Patrick's is aged 16 or aged 90. As I read the Bill the Minister can make an order transferring a person of 16 years to prison.

Perhaps the Minister may meet me on this by saying that of course he will not do any such thing, that he would not be daft enough to do that but while I fully accept that to be the Minister's intention and attitude, I do not consider it good enough for the Houses of the Oireachtas to legislate in such a way as to leave the door open to future Ministers to act against the spirit of what is intended in the legislation that is going through.

There is no age limit, upper or lower, as far as section 7 is concerned nor is there any requirement under this section for the Minister to consult with the visiting committee with regard to records of character and general bearing in St. Patrick's of the persons he proposes to transfer. As a minimum, there should be a requirement under section 7 not merely that the Minister would consult the visiting committee as to whether a problem of overcrowding exists but that in the event of there being such a problem and in the event of the Minister making an order for the transfer of inmates to prison from St. Patrick's he would also be required to consult with the visiting committee as to who should be transferred.

Again, the Minister will probably say that of course he will find out who should be transferred in the event of any transfers having to be made and that he would leave in St. Patrick's those most likely to benefit as a result of being there as against being put in a separate section in prison. I would accept such a reply but I do not think it goes far enough. Without wishing the Minister any ill-luck he may be in office for only a very short time.

Four years or so.

That may depend on which side of the fence he decides to jump.

And I shall be back after the general election then.

That will be on 6th April, 1975.

I have no hard feelings against the Minister but I am simply making a valid point.

An unrealistic one.

At any rate, whether the Minister's stay in office be long or short this Bill is intended to outstay the Minister's period in office. It is intended to bind not only the present Minister but anyone who comes after him. There should be a tightening up with regard to section 7 even if that tightening up is only to the extent of requiring consultation between the Minister and the visiting committee not merely on the question of overcrowding but with regard to the actual inmates to be transferred.

As far as section 2 of the Bill is concerned—I do not intend making a Committee discussion of this—I would like to indicate to the Minister certain amendments which, if he sees fit, he might put down for Committee Stage. This is a section which in so far as the principle of it is concerned would have wholehearted support from Senators but the vehicle for bringing that principle into operation is faulty. This section reads:

The Minister may, for the purpose of promoting the rehabilitation of offenders, provide places other than prisons for the detention of persons who have been sentenced to penal servitude or imprisonment or to detention in Saint Patrick's Institution.

As the Bill stands there is authority under this section for the Minister to provide alternative places of detention. From what the Minister has told us what is intended by that section is to operate the "open" centre at Shanganagh and possibly other ventures on similar lines. I fully accept that. However, if the Minister were to have any bad thoughts about returning to the Criminal Justice Bill he would be enabled to transfer people to military custody. I do not think there is any doubt about that. There is no limitation in that Bill as to the places to which the Minister can make an order transferring persons to military custody.

Military custody would be in a prison and not in places other than prisons for the purpose of rehabilitation.

An internment camp can be military custody without being a prison.

Perhaps it is the old Fine Gael trick that inspires the Senator?

The Leader of the House may find it difficult in these days to think seriously of matters of this kind.

I must remind the Senator that his party transferred quite a number to military custody.

Possibly but I do not know if the Chair will consider it appropriate that this occasion should be availed of for discussion on aspects and circumstances of Irish history. However, I do know that it was proposed in the Criminal Justice Bill introduced to the last Dáil to take these powers of transferring civil prisoners to military custody. I know the Minister does not intend to do it. The only thing I say is that under section 2 of the Bill, as worded, it is open to the Minister as I see it to do that. I would just ask the Minister to make it quite clear on Committee Stage by inserting some provision excluding military custody, that this will not entitle either him or any Minister who comes after him to transfer young persons from St. Patrick's or civilian prisoners from prison into military custody. That is a reasonable request. The Minister, I am sure, will see it as a reasonable request and I will expect to see an amendment on those lines from him on Committee Stage. If not, we can consider it further by an amendment which I will put down.

Section 3 of the Bill provides that the Minister may by regulations specify by reference to age and sex the class of persons who may be detained in a place provided under section 2 of this Bill. The purpose of this section is to enable the Minister to make regulations covering the class of persons who may be transferred from St. Patrick's or from prison to another place such as the Shanganagh "open" centre. I have not any objection at all to that so far as it goes but I do not think it goes far enough. It seems to me under the wording of section 3, subsection (1) (a) the Minister will not be entitled to take into consideration anything other than the age and sex of the inmates. There should be some more general guideline laid down. It should be made clear in the Bill that the Minister would have regard to the general suitability of the person to be transferred.

After all, the whole framework of the Shanganagh centre, as I mentioned earlier, is based on selectivity, on selecting people who basically and generally are suitable for accommodation of that type. That is the intention quite clearly and it should be spelled out in the Bill. Apart from those observations many of which, I suppose, are mainly Committee points, I would extend a welcome to this Bill.

I suppose it would be open to us to discuss the general question of the prison service and of improvements and so on that we would like to have made in it. I do not propose doing that because I think the three net objects which the Minister has defined exist in this Bill. There are two principles in the Bill and as far as they go they are worthy of support. I might say, however, that I think it is regrettable, although I know it is not the Minister's Department, that the reports on the prison service seem to run about two years behind. I believe I am correct in saying that it was only today that the report on prisons for 1968 was issued. I have not seen it yet. I have simply seen a news item dealing with it in one of the daily newspapers. It certainly would be of very considerable assistance to Senators in considering this legislation—of course, it is only a coincidence that it happens to be considered by us on the same day as the issue of this report— if we had an opportunity of reading he report first because from the newspaper report I have seen it apparently deals to some extent with St. Patrick's and with Shanganagh. I know this is not something the Minister can control other than that it seems to be odd that it is only in the middle month of 1970 we have available the report for 1968. I wonder would it be possible to make an arrangement, although I know statistics have to be compiled and one thing and another, which take time, that the report be issued somewhat earlier than that?

Could I have some guidance at this stage? Are we hoping to complete the Second Stage this evening or will it be continued later?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is a matter for the House to control its own business but I think the Senator would be presuming too much to expect the Second Stage to be finished tonight.

I realise that but people normally have the benefit on occasions such as this of getting an indication. However, I shall be as quick as I can. First of all, I certainly should like to welcome this Bill very much indeed. I welcome particularly the phrase about the provision of places for the purpose of promoting the rehabilitation of offenders. I welcome this emphasis on rehabilitation because I realise that it certainly is a very difficult matter to bring about the rehabilitation of delinquents, young or old, for a number of reasons. Delinquency does not occur solely by the exercise of pure choice on the part of the delinquents or by the chance of misfortune, so to speak.

We all recognise now that delinquency represents in many ways a habitual anti-social disposition which can be developed by the bitter experience of a hard childhood or a conflict in the home. Those are causes of delinquency which are very difficult to deal with.

In thinking about the problem which would face this new type of institution at Shanganagh I was interested in an article in Administration of the summer of 1968 on the social and psychological characteristics of institutionalised young offenders in Ireland by Ian Harte, who is a research officer in the Economic and Social Research Institute. I was interested in this article because writings about problems of this kind in Ireland are comparatively rare. Indeed in many ways this article is probably not the most deep piece of research that one would like to see.

Nevertheless, as a result of a survey of delinquents from institutions Mr. Harte reached this conclusion:

The results indicate the difficulties in the way of reforming delinquent children. The most hopeful treatment for a large number of boys who are very hostile towards their parents and homes and as so often follows, towards themselves, would seem to be psychotherapy extending over a couple of years.

The article goes on to say:

A probation hostel would therefore seem to be about the best place for psychotherapy with these boys.

This is a very large requirement for an attempt to assist delinquents. One would hope that Shanganagh would provide an opportunity for treatment of this kind and I would be interested to hear if the Minister has any ideas at this stage as to how the specialised staff for this new type of institution will be developed over the years.

The staffing of these institutions will be a major factor in their success. It will be important that there should be a good ratio between the staff and the juveniles in the institutions and plenty of opportunity to keep the boys there fully occupied during the day.

I was interested that in opening this debate the Minister talked about future developments there and particularly about the provision of permanent workshops. The Minister listed facilities such as instruction in metal-work and plumbing, car maintenance and repair, electrical repairs, building construction and painting, papering and glazing. I feel this is too readily the type of activities which one provides for delinquents, young and old. If we had more information about the potential and IQ of detainees in institutions of this kind we might find that there were many young people with high educational potential. In an institution like Shanganagh I would hope it might be possible to provide boys of this kind with more unusual types of opportunity for education and perhaps an opportunity of attending courses of a more academic or artistic nature for boys who proved to have abilities of this kind. Very often in our society we have many discontented craftsmen and builders simply because they are men with a greater potential but who did not have an opportunity of developing their talents. Someone of a delinquent disposition, on finding himself in a craft which is not suited to him, may suffer and his chance of rehabilitation is affected.

I had an opportunity of having a quick look at the Annual Report on Prisons, 1968 to which Senator O'Higgins referred. I saw that initially some of the work at Shanganagh for the boys has consisted in clearing the scrub and undergrowth to reclaim the grounds. The grounds are extensive, consisting of 22 acres. I would like to suggest to the Minister the possibility of a project which might be considered by the boys at Shanganagh. This may have come to the Minister's attention.

The suggestion was raised initially with the Department of Local Government who have a responsibility in this regard. I am referring to the fact that the Dún Laoghaire Itinerant Settlement Committee made representations to the Department of Local Government asking them to examine the possibility of obtaining a site for a permanent itinerant camp in the grounds of Shanganagh. There is plenty of space there. It is a site in a well-known itinerant area. There is the great advantage that it is an area in which members of the public would not readily object. The boys have been encouraged to work in clearing up the grounds. Here is an ideal social project which might gain their interest. They might prepare an itinerant site in the grounds of Shanganagh. Should the Department of Justice receive any suggestions in this regard from the Department of Local Government or people interested in itinerant welfare, I hope they will look on this matter and this type of social project for young offenders with interest and encouragement.

In looking at the value of these new institutions for rehabilitation we must look, as Senator O'Higgins did, at the regulations which the Minister can make under this Bill and which are likely to shape the working of these new institutions. I would like to make two comments. I see that the Minister may make regulations as to the classification, treatment, employment and control of persons to be detained in this type of institution. I would strongly urge that all juveniles being considered for Shanganagh and similar institutions should have IQ assessment as part of the classifying process. Another small point—as there is an emphasis on rehabilitation—would be that Shanganagh and similar institutions might stand the best chance of success if there was some feeling among the young boys that when going to Shanganagh the punitive stage of their detention was nearing its end. It might be an advantage if it were made quite clear that corporal punishment would not play any part in the discipline at Shanganagh. I realise there are difficulties here. I am not sure of the present regulations governing the institution. I recommend this suggestion to the Minister.

I notice in the Annual Report on Prisons that the staff at Shanganagh so far have been selected from officers of the prison service. I hope that every opportunity will be provided for those officers to receive any special training which may assist them in their work. Their work will be most successful if the probation service, which will follow up detention in those institutions, follows the lines which the Minister in his recent announcements obviously hopes it will. I welcome any development of the probation service. It is urgently required.

The Minister should consider whether his Department might possibly make grants to the universities for the training of probation officers. As I understand it the term "probation officer" is now a technical, social-work term. In other parts of the world there are specialised forces for the training of probation officers. At present no courses for the training of probation officers are available in the Twenty-six Counties. I would strongly urge on the Minister that the best way of building up the force of probation officers, through his Department, would be to provide funds to the universities to provide training courses of this kind for the type of specialist officer which this new type of approach to the treatment of juvenile delinquents will require.

Is it proposed to adjourn this debate until tomorrow or until next week?

It will be taken at 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, after the motion.

Debate adjourned.
The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 10 a.m. on Thursday, 11th June, 1970.