Practice of jailing minors in adult prisons to end from this week

Under-18s remanded in custody to be placed in Oberstown child detention school

Minister for Children James Reilly: said he was committed to achieving the ending of the practice of detaining children in adult prisons at the earliest possible date. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Children James Reilly: said he was committed to achieving the ending of the practice of detaining children in adult prisons at the earliest possible date. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The practice of admitting minors to adult prisons is to cease from this week onwards.

Until now, 17 year olds remanded in custody were typically placed in St Patrick’s Institution for young offenders, which forms part of the Mountjoy Prison complex.

The Government has been repeatedly criticised over the practice by children’s rights advocates and international human rights groups .

From Monday onwards, Oberstown child detention school near Lusk, Co Dublin, will take all young men under the age of 18 who are newly remanded in custody by the courts.

All females under this age have been detained at the Oberstown campus since 2007.

The Government moved in recent times to expand the complex and recruit additional care staff at the Co Dublin facility.

If these additional residential places are full, legislation allows for under-18s to be remanded in St Patrick’s Institution. These provisions are due to be repealed soon, however.

On most occasions in the past two years, there have been fewer than eight under-18s remanded in custody in St Patrick’s Institution.

The first five units of new residential accommodation have now been finished on the Oberstown campus and will be gradually brought into use.

Minister for Children James Reilly said he was committed to achieving the ending of the practice of detaining children in adult prisons at the earliest possible date.

The Government pledged to do this within the lifetime of the Coalition under its programme for government.

His colleague Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said she is in talks with various agencies to ensure 17-year-old males currently serving sentences are moved into more appropriate settings as soon as possible.

The Government allocated €50 million three years ago for the redevelopment of the Oberstown campus.

It involves increasing the capacity of the facility and replacing some detention facilities which lack toilets.