Dr. Liam Twomey of Fine Gael has called again on the government for an immediate review of our prison system. Dr. Twomey said “Our prisons are not full of drug dealers and gangland criminals but full of people who do not pay small fines. They are also full of non-nationals awaiting deportation from the country because the deportation system is moving too slowly.”
“Holding people in prison for non-violent offences is not the answer. Ireland systematically overuses imprisonment as punishment, and we need to look at alternatives. Dr. Mary Seymour, School of Social Science and Law, DIT told Oireachtas members that in 2008, prisoners serving sentences of less than six months accounted for 62% of the total committals under sentence. She also said that the nature of offending for short term prisoners suggests that there is the potential to impose community-based sanctions without compromising on public safety and protection. The government needs to look at the use of fines, community service orders and probation orders amongst other sanctions as an alternative to custodial sentences for non-violent crimes.”
Dr. Twomey added that the practice of holding immigration detainees has been condemned in the past by the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture. “They have said that “A prison is by definition not a suitable place in which to detain someone who is neither convicted nor suspected of a criminal offence."
“At a cost of roughly €2,000 per week to jail offenders, I am calling on the government to review current practice. There is a financial need for this review for us, as tax payers. However there is also a need for those who are imprisoned for non-payment of fines. The negative impact of prison on these people cannot be underestimated.”
Prison should be kept for violent crimes and serious crimes should get serious time in prison, not the revolving door we seem to have at present.
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