Following a visit to support the prison chaplaincy team in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, Bishop Martin Hayes lamented the pressure that the prison system is under.
Bishop Hayes said, “people are sent to prison in the hope that they will mend their ways; that they will be rehabilitated. However, our prison system, despite the best of intentions, is struggling to achieve rehabilitation for those in custody. It is in this context that we cannot forget about those who are sent to prison, the men and women who are serving time for crimes that they committed.
“It is clear to me that the prison system in Mountjoy Prison is under huge pressure to cope with the demands placed upon it. The key message for me was that, while the population of our country has increased, the capacity of our Irish Prison Service – in terms of the total number of available cells – has not. It means that our prisons are becoming overcrowded resulting in instances of two prisoners occupying one cell, with one prisoner lying on the floor on a thin mattress, as I witnessed myself in Mountjoy.”
Bishop Hayes concluded, “Another challenge is the ease with which drugs can be delivered into the prison. As Mountjoy is a prison in a city, drugs can literally be catapulted into the grounds thus increasing their ‘market’ value. Drugs are sought to cope with prison life and, of course, they hinder rehabilitation efforts.
Bishop Martin Hayes is Bishop of Kilmore and liaison bishop with prison chaplains.