Why ferguson prisons have been so badly managed
The government has pledged to cut the prison population by a third within five years and to reduce its reliance on solitary confinement and harsh conditions.
Fergus Falls Correctional Centre in the Irish province of Co Donegal, which is home to more than 2,500 people, has been the scene of a number of high-profile incidents over the past year, including an attack by prisoners on staff in January.
In February, a female prisoner, who was on parole at the time, was seriously injured when a prison guard hit her with a hammer, causing a brain injury.
The incident sparked a national debate over prison policies, and led to a number reforms.
On March 1, the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, announced that the centre would be closed in 2020, with all staff transferred to other institutions.
But some in the community, including the prisoners themselves, have questioned the closure, calling for more intensive support and a “zero tolerance” approach to prisoners.
The Prisoners’ Union has called for a rethink on how prisons are run, and says the prison needs to be reformed.
“The current prison system is completely dysfunctional,” the union said.
“We have a prison population of nearly 3,500 and it has only been closed for two years.
It has a total capacity of almost 4,000 and it is already overcrowded and overcrowded.”
Ferguson facilities are used to hold the maximum number of people, but prisoners are locked in cells in separate facilities with no access to outside air, food or water.
A lack of toilets and showers is a problem for many prisoners, and many of those who have left the prison to escape abuse have not been seen since.
Last year, prison officials announced that all inmates would be moved into secure units, but a number remained at the facility, including those on parole, those on probation and those on the National Probation Service’s “low risk” list.
A number of new facilities were opened, including two in the county of Mayo, in April.
The two prisons were built at a cost of almost €20 million and are run by two separate contractors, Hire Me and GAA International.
GAA said in a statement it “takes seriously its responsibility to provide quality and affordable housing, and we are proud to work with the Government and the private sector in building a secure and efficient facility for our staff and their families.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said the Department was committed to “increasing the use of technology, improving the provision of services, and supporting those in need in all areas of life”.
She added that prison reforms would be “fully and fully implemented” and included the introduction of a “shared accommodation” policy for prisoners in the future.
She said there was “significant work to do” in all of Ireland’s prisons, including reducing the use and impact of solitary confinement.