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Fewer prisoners, not more prisons

Fewer prisoners, not more prisons

Green Party MP Nandor Tanczos today scoffed at Government plans to increase prison capacity, saying that they are looking at the issue of overcrowding from the ‘wrong end of the telescope’.

Cabinet has today approved funding to add 213 beds to the country's prison capacity over the next two years. This is in addition to the four new prisons opening over the next three years that will increase capacity by more than 1500 beds.

“Rather than looking at how to lock up more people, the Government should be focussing on how to reduce the prison population,” said Nandor, the Green Party Justice Spokesperson.

“Around half of the prison population is in for non-violent offences. That’s the real scandal. The best way to deal with the prison overcrowding is early release of non-violent offenders and greater use of community sentencing.

“The overcrowding crisis is a result of a Government policy that is designed to pander to the ‘tough-on-crime’ lobby. It is an inevitable result of changes to bail and sentencing law and the poor funding available for rehabilitative programs.

“Just this week we saw a severely disabled man sent to prison for five months and refused leave to apply for home detention, just for growing cannabis for pain relief. What are the priorities?

“Government Ministers have to look at who is in our prisons and whether they should be there in the first place?” said Nandor.

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