THE MAJORITY of people sent to Limerick Prison for non-payment of fines are turned away at the gates of the Mulgrave Street jail, moments after being delivered to the prison by gardai, it has been confirmed.
A spokesperson for Limerick Prison said many people who are unable to pay fines, or avoid paying them for a range of offences do not feel the full force of the law because jails across the country are at breaking point.
“They’re sent to prison alright, but none of them ever get here. There’s nobody in Limerick Prison serving a sentence for fines today, nor has there been for a long time. They’re automatically turned away,” said the spokesperson.
“The gardai pick them up, and they arrive at the prison, and the numbers are too high to take them. There’s very little scope for first-timers in prison at the moment. It would be hard to find anybody who’s in for a very minor offence now. The main problem with the prisons, aside from the committal rate, is the increased length of sentence over the past 10 years,” said the source.
The Irish Prison Service and the Inspector of Prisons have differed on whether the true bed capacity at Limerick Prison is 185 or 290, which the former state it is.
However, such is the throughput of prisoners from the courts that the daily population of the prison can rise to 340.