Written answers

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Juvenile Offenders

7:00 pm

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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Question 130: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of places available to young offenders to participate in educational programmes in St. Patrick's Institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25748/10]

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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Question 132: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will list and name the number of workshops available in St. Patrick's Institution; the number of participants on each scheme; the length of each course; if there is a waiting list to access the various workshops, if so, the length of the waiting period; his plans to introduce new workshops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25751/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 132 together.

In St Patrick's Institution educational classes and courses are provided by a team of twenty whole-time equivalent teachers. All young persons are interviewed on committal for both Work/Training and Education and offered places in one or other of these activities. While the primary focus is on basic literacy and numeracy, the educational courses offered cover a wide range of subjects including English, Maths, Computers, Art, Crafts, Music and Home Economics. Various FETAC courses are on offer and a variety of subjects are offered up to Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate standard. Currently 115 prisoners are participating in educational classes, with up to 70 attending on any given day. In addition, all inmates have access to library facilities and a fully fitted gymnasium.

In the Work and Training area, a number of vocational workshops are currently in operation - covering Woodwork and Joinery, Metal Work, Computer Training, Laundry, Industrial Skills and Catering. The average weekly participation rate in Work and Training is 49 prisoners. The period of attendance in workshops depends on a range of factors including the length and complexity of the coursework, the ability of the prisoner and the length of sentence. There are no waiting lists in operation and there are currently no plans to expand the number of workshops in the Institution.

All prisoners are encouraged and facilitated, subject to security considerations, to engage in constructive activities. In addition to participation in education and work and training there are on any given day an average of 58 inmates engaged in other structured activities such as painting, general cleaning, laundry, kitchen and horticultural work.

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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Question 131: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the drug treatment facilities that are available in St. Patrick's Institution; the number of young offenders availing of these services; if there are plans to increase this service; the number of drug-free landings in St. Patrick's Institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25750/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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The Irish Prison Service has committed significant investment in recent years to respond to drug misuse within prisons in keeping with our policy and strategy "Keeping Drugs Out of Prisons" which continues to be implemented. A comprehensive range of services and programmes are provided in all closed prisons including St. Patrick's Institution. Drug rehabilitation programmes seek to reduce demand for drugs within the prison system through education, treatment and rehabilitation services. Particular initiatives include the provision of detoxification, methadone maintenance, education programmes, addiction counselling and drug therapy programmes, coupled with work, training and education access. Rehabilitation addresses needs beyond the physical management of addiction and also endeavours to equip individuals with life and vocational skills that may help them reintegrate into society on release. Because of this multifaceted approach, it is not possible to give comprehensive detail of the numbers engaged in various treatment modalities.

Any person entering prison giving a history of opiate use and testing positive for opioids on committal is offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification for operational reasons. Patients can, as part of the assessment process, discuss with health care staff other treatment options which may include stabilisation on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance while in prison and when they return to the community on release. There are a very small number of young offenders on methadone substitution treatment. Adolescents tend to experiment with a wide variety of drugs. Some of these might include opiate-type drugs but the numbers on substitution treatment remain very low. This would indicate there is no demonstrable evidence to suggest a wide dependence on opiate-type drugs. In 2009, 19 prisoners in St. Patrick's Institution were prescribed methadone. Only one of this number was not known to the drug treatment services in the community.

Merchants Quay Ireland provides a full range of counselling services in St. Patrick's Institution including addiction counselling and evidence based counselling interventions with defined care plans and goals. From January to April 2010 there were in excess of 450 prisoner contacts. Merchants Quay Ireland assess all those referred to them and determine appropriate actions which can include onward referrals, individual counselling, group work all of which includes interventions such as harm reduction, relapse prevention, cognitive behaviour therapy and release planning. An in-reach addiction psychiatrist also attends St. Patrick's Institution each week. At a corporate level the IPS are continuing to enhance and expand addiction treatment provision in partnership with community based addiction services across the prison estate.

There is currently one designated drug free landing in St. Patrick's Institution which can accommodate 75 prisoners at any one time. Upon committal to St Patrick's, inmates are provided with information about the drug free wing and invited to apply for same. Before going onto the drug free division, two clean urines must be given and there must be no disciplinary reports for the previous month. Considerable effort is employed by staff in St. Patrick's Institution to ensure that initiatives such as education and drug awareness, urine screening and psycho-social interventions are made available to all prisoners.

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