Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for National Drugs Strategy and Justice Committee member, Jack Chambers TD has said that we cannot allow our prisons to be a haven for illegal drug use and enhanced efforts must be made to provide drug treatment services to inmates in Irish prisons’.
According to media reports today, there were 1,018 drug seizures in prisons last year. That’s an average of almost three a day and represents over a 40% increase in seizures recorded in 2016.
Commenting on the matter, Deputy Chambers said, “Emerging trends in prison drug use indicate that there is an escalating problem that requires immediate attention from authorities.
“As of January 31st, the State’s prison population stands at 4,092 inmates; a large proportion of those suffer from drug and/or alcohol addiction issues.
“Despite tightening the systems in place to deter drug smuggling, prisoners and those associated with them are continuing to identify clever ways of getting substances into prisons.
“In light of the rise of new psychoactive substances authorities need to review and amend the services and treatment options available to prisoners with addiction and mental health issues.
He added, “The Irish Prison Service currently has no laboratory capacity to test the drugs that are seized, they are therefore unable to report on or respond to changing patterns in prison drug use.
“We cannot expect the addiction services in our prisons’ to be well equipped if those providing them have no details regarding specific narcotics.
“Prison Staff including prison officers are already working in an incredibly challenging and pressurised environment but our prison service must support inmates to become law abiding citizens while incarcerated.
“The main principles of legal imprisonment are retribution, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation; based upon those it is pertinent on the Irish Prison Service to provide services to end unlawful drug use.
He concluded, “We have to approach this problem with new vigour and put resources into supporting prisoners to end their term without a drug problem, otherwise we’re leaving them to almost inevitably reoffend as a means of feeding their addiction.”