RTÉ News: John Lonergan to retire as Mountjoy Governor
The governor said he hopes he will be remembered for taking a genuine interest in prisoners and in having a fair and just regime.
Lonergan, has been hailed as someone who dealt with prisoners on a humane level, was always of the view that the punishment provided by prison was the loss of freedom and that the conditions of prisons were never intended to be a punishment of itself. However the chronic and persistent over-crowding, has meant that in reality the conditions in Mountjoy did amount to additional punishement. One which could, in my view, be recognised as being in breach of the Human Rights of the Prisoners (yes, they do have rights).
It is hard to disagree with this analysis from someone who has been at the coalface for 42 years in prisons and 26 years in Mountjoy (far longer all but a handful of prisoners in the State).Mr Lonergan said Mountjoy never benefited from the extra prisoner accommodation provided elsewhere in the system. Criticising the current penal system, Mr Lonergan said that there is more 'warehousing' taking place in our prisons than rehabilitation.
This must amount to a huge admission of failure. In addition, the idea that a prisoner who was drugs free on entering Mountjoy leaving as a junkie, is a shocking indictment of our whole penal process. The absolute least the prison system should do is take dangerous criminals off our streets and de-tox them while they are there. By reason of over-crowding and free availabilty of drugs, it has failed both, and for that reason, Mr Lonergan must, in my view, be counted as a failure.Mr Lonergan said that while there were no drugs in prisons when he joined the service, today they are a scourge which have done huge damage to prisoners and their families. Drugs, he said, had undermined all the positive elements of prison life.
I wish him well in his retirement.
Further information on Mountjoy
Summary of report of Judge Reilly. The intended capacity os 489, on occasion there has been over 600 prisoners.
In his inspection report on the notorious Dublin jail, Judge Michael Reilly says:
- Prisoners in cramped cells have to share toilet buckets in front of each other (‘slopping out’).
- They can’t empty the buckets overnight, which usually are not covered.
- Inmates often pour the contents of the buckets into bins on the landings.
- Liquid leaks from the bins onto the landing and elsewhere in the prison when being brought away.
- Some cells contain soiled mattresses.
- Cockroaches and mice are a problem in certain cells.
Read more: ?Inhumane? conditions in Mountjoy Prison | Irish Examiner