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27 Sept 2022

More than 1,000 prisoners locked up in Laois jails each day

Midlands Prison Portlaoise.

Isolation wing at the Midlands Prison.

An average of 1,013 inmates were locked up in the Portlaoise jail complex each day in 2021, according to the Irish Prison Service.

The figures or Portlaoise Prison and the Midlands Prison are published in the IPS annual report published this week.

It says that the daily average population in Ireland's biggest jail, the Midlands Prison, was 802 each day last year. An average of 27 were on temporary release while 91 were awaiting trial in the medium security jail. The bed capacity at the end of the year was 875.

The neighbouring Portlaoise Prison had an average of 211 prisoners each day last year. An average of three criminals were on temporary release while nine prisoners were on remand awaiting trial. There were 291 beds in at the Ireland's high security jail at the end of 2021.

Nationally, there were an average of 3,792 prisoners in Irish jails each day last year. There was a capacity for 4,375 inmates in the prison system at the end of 2021.

The report says the number in custody in prisons was reduced to approximately 3,600 from March 2020 to June 2020 to ensure effective infection control measures in response to the threat posed by Covid-19.

However, the annual report says the Irish Prison Service witnessed a gradual increase in the prison population throughout
2021 with numbers rising to 3,906 by mid-year. The numbers reduced somewhat by year's end.

This equates to an average occupancy rate of 87% which is below the target of 90%.

There were 6,133 committals to prison in 2021, which is a 3% decrease on the 2020 figure of 6,340. The Irish Prison Service says it continued the "judicious use" of temporary release in 2021 to ensure the prison population was maintained below 90% to ensure effective infection control measures were possible.

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