Monday, May 3, 2010

Half of inmates jailed for non-payment of fines

A lovely state of affairs we have here in Ireland: debtors prisons. When half the prison population is there for non-payment of government fines, me thinks that history is repeating itself in Ireland. Instead of the English jailing us, we just jail ourselves.

Fair play to Sunday Business Post and Richard Curran/John Burke for bringing the story to light.

If you live in the USA, don't feel left out. Apparently the majority of prison inmates there are guilty of smoking pot.

Read and weep.

Half of inmates jailed
for non-payment of fines

02 May 2010
By Richard Curran and John Burke

Sunday Business Post

Half of all the people who were sent to prison last year were incarcerated for non-payment of fines, new figures reveal.

In the first ten months of 2009, 3,300 people were sent to prison for failing to pay fines.

A continuation of that pattern for the final two months of the year would leave the full-year total equal to half of all those placed in prison last year, according to Professor Ian O’Donnell of the Institute of Criminology at University College Dublin.

O’Donnell said that the number of people in Irish prisons was set to top 100 per 100,000 of the population for the first time since the foundation of the state. When remand prisoners are included the figures are even higher, according to O’Donnell.

‘‘The numbers in prisons have been creeping up, and it is part of an alarming trend," he said.

Breaching the 100 per 100,000 figure crossed a ‘‘significant threshold, taking Ireland from a comparatively low prison population to a middle ranking level by EU standards’’, added O’Donnell.

The growing numbers in prison for non-payment of fines reflects the economic downturn, ac cording to O’Donnell. He condemned the trend, which ‘‘breaks up families, while failing to recover the fine, and costs the state a lot of money’’.

Meanwhile, a previously-unpublished report has found that diseases such as hepatitis C are ‘‘endemic’’ in Irish prisons.

The examination, carried out by public health experts, found that medical infrastructure at more than one-third of the state’s 14 prisons was ‘‘unsuitable’’ for meeting patient health needs. Some equipment in use was found date back to Victorian times, the experts concluded.

Related: Prison population increased in '08

Number of committals for non-payment
of fines and RTA offences 1990-2006


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