Overcrowding and Cell Capacity in Irish Prisons
Any discussion of prison conditions or overall prison policy in Ireland cannot but give close attention to the question of the overcrowding that is pervasive throughout the prison system.
This overcrowding starkly reflects the reality that the numbers imprisoned, both on remand and under sentence, have grown significantly over the past thirty years, with the daily average number of people in prison increasing more than three-fold, reaching well over 4,000 in 2010.
There has been an expansion in prison places – with, for example, the building of large extensions to many prisons, but the number of additional places has not matched the increase in the number of people detained. The result is that, in most of the country’s prisons, cells designed for one person now routinely accommodate two or even more people. On 7 December 2010, 63 per cent of those detained in Irish prisons – 2,762 people out of a total prison population of 4,416 – were not accommodated in a single cell.1