Drug-free wing sought at Mountjoy


Mountjoy Prison has no drugfree areas apart from its healthcare unit because of "lack of finance" and overcrowding, according to a report in the prison service magazine.

The establishment of a drugfree wing in Mountjoy was recommended more than a year ago in a review of the drug treatment programme by the prison medical officer, Dr Des Crowley.

Prison officers met officials from the Department of Justice in December to discuss the drug-free status of the training unit, part of the Mountjoy complex but separate from the main prison.

"A major concern, which surfaced, was the lack of counselling services for recovering drug abusers at the training unit," the report in this month's Prison Officer says.

The unit is the only drug-free prison environment for those who succeed in coming off heroin through the eight-week prison drug detoxification programme. The question of the non-existence of a special drug-free area in the main prison was raised at the meeting, the report said. "The response from the Department was that lack of finance and the ongoing pressure on accommodation was the problem."

The refurbishment of Mountjoy is due to start next year when new spaces become available for remand prisoners at the newly-built Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin. The plan is to refurbish the prison wing by wing and is expected to take five years to complete.