Service provision in Castlerea Prison : adequacy and shortfall from the perspective of prisoners
This study is an examination of the needs of Castlerea prisoners and the adequacy of service provision in the prison. The Irish prison population presents as a severely disadvantaged and marginalised group (O’Mahony 1996; McCullagh, 1996). Castlerea is no exception. Castlerea is quite unique as a prison in the Irish context. The prison houses a broader range of offenders than many other Irish prisons; holding political prisoners, drug offenders and sexual offenders. These prisoners are integrated with each other without undue difficulty. A sample of 88 prisoners was used. The current study found the prisoners exhibited difficulties in relation to medical health, psychological health, educational and employment history, addiction and re-offending. Respondents were vocal about areas of need and had considerable insight into the issues they needed to address in order to progress towards a crime-free lifestyle. The prison’s lack of comprehensive addiction treatment facilities and psychology services hinders the rehabilitation of prisoners. Insufficient preparation and planning for release also poses a serious difficulty for the prisoners. A specific problem highlighted by the study was the issue of releasing sex offenders without having undergone any treatment or intervention. The study found that there is little formal assessment of need in Castlerea and prisoner support services are quite limited. Assessment is generally carried out on an ad hoc basis without the support of a structured service response. Drug abuse and assault, although present, are not as serious an issue in Castlerea as in other Irish prisons. Castlerea has the potential to be a very progressive prison with the ability to have a very positive impact on the lives of prisoners through reducing rates of re-offending, addressing problems such as addiction, mental and physical health problems and improving education levels and literacy rates. This potential is not currently being realised.
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