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Written Answers - Prison Education Service

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 449.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 469 and 471 of 13 March 2012, if he will indicate the format or structures used to determine eligibility for rehabilitative or educational programmes or schemes at each prison or correction centre throughout the country; the extent to which the selection process conforms to a particular criterion; if suitable candidates are selected on the basis of random selection, obvious suitability or other need for such education or training; whether any particular pattern has been identified indicating particular and specific benefit to individual categories of prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16084/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As set out in my response to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 469 and 471, the Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services.

On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self-refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral.

The Irish Prison Service has introduced an Integrated Sentence Management (ISM) system. ISM involves a new orientation in the delivery of services to prisoners and an emphasis on prisoners taking greater personal responsibility for their own development through active engagement with both specialist and non-specialist services in the prisons. The end result is a prisoner-centred multidisciplinary approach to working with prisoners with provision for initial assessment, goal setting and periodic review to measure progress.

Newly committed prisoners with a sentence of greater than one year are eligible to take part in ISM. If they agree to participate, a First Contact Assessment interview takes place. This First Contact Assessment identifies the needs of the prisoner in several areas such as accommodation, education and offending behaviour. Referrals are made on foot of this assessment to services within the prison such as Education or Work and Training and outside agencies providing an in-reach service. These services and agencies carry out their own assessment of the prisoner and feed their recommended actions back to the ISM Co-ordinator.

The various actions recommended are compiled into a Personal Integration Plan (PIP) for the prisoner to complete during his/her time in prison. The PIP will be reviewed regularly depending on the length of the sentence. Approximately 9 months prior to the release of the prisoner, a Community Integration Plan (CIP) will be developed. This sets out a plan for the prisoners to prepare for his/her release. Important issues such as accommodation, employment or education are addressed to help the prisoner resettle into the community on release and reduce the risk of re-offending.

As previously advised, the Irish Prison Service is in the process of drafting a new Strategic Plan 2012-2014 which will be presented to me, by the Director General, in the first week of April. The development of prisoner programmes will form a central part of this Strategy.

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