The average cost of housing a prisoner in Portlaoise prison now stands at €1,818 per week according to figures released by the Irish Prison Service.
The 2013 cost represents a slight increase on the previous year when it cost €1,675 per week to keep a prisoner in the jail.
In total it cost €27.5 million to run Portlaoise prison last year. The prison is the most expensive to run in the country due to its high security status and the nature of the prisoners kept there.
High-profile prisoners in the prison include the Dundon brothers, Wayne, John and Dessie who are all in the A5 unit and are serving life sentences for murder. Michael McKevitt, the alleged leader of the Real IRA, is one of a number of dissidents housed at the prison.
Overall the IPS says that the cost per prison space at Portlaoise increased by 8.5% last year from €87,108 to €94,575.
One of the main factors in the rise of housing the State’s most dangerous prisoners at Portlaoise is the number of prison spaces going down from 316 in 2012 to 291 last year, with fixed costs not dropping.
A breakdown of the costs of housing prisoners at Portlaoise show that fixed costs, mainly prison officers’ pay, came to €66,981 per prisoner with non custodial costs, including prisoner escorts, totalling €15,129 per prisoner.
Prisoner related costs including catering, healthcare, prisoner gratuities, clothing, bedding, recreational facilities, laundry and drug detection came to €6,177 per prisoner. Other variable costs came to €6,287.
There are 291 bed spaces in Portlaoise prison, with an average of 262 prisoners accommodated per day in 2013. The neighbouring Midlands prison has a capacity of 874 with an average of 762 prisoners in custody each day.