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Thread: Mountjoy Governor John Lonergan to retire: was he a success or a failure?

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    Default Mountjoy Governor John Lonergan to retire: was he a success or a failure?

    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).

    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.
    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 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.
    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.

    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

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    Politics.ie Member nonpartyboy's Avatar
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    How the hell do all these lefties manage to get in to positions of power in the prison service ? You commit the crime you do the time, get over it !. Prison conditions in this country aren't half bad enough.

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    Best of luck on his retirement, a job well done,

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    There are still no toilet facilites in the cells ? How about the medical wing, giving that
    some illness require clean hygenic jacks'.

    I would not necessarily say that one should dump the problem on the Governor,
    but is doesn't seem to have been a priority for either this Minister for Blasphemy
    or indeed his predecessor.

    Conditions in irish prisons made it into the European Committee on Torture
    visiting committee, who last reported in 2006. FF/PD did not seem to prioritise
    prison infrastructure (and the Thornton debacle made it to a C+AG enquiry!!)

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    I remember reading about how the drug-testing programme in prisions was actually pushing some inmates onto heroin from softer drugs. The reason? Cannabis stays present in the body much longer than heroin and you are therefore much more likely to fail a drugs test if you are a cannabis user which prompted many to switch to the harder drug.
    There were extensive studies into this in the UK prisons but as far as I know Lonergan stuck with the drugs-testing programme which was arguably worsening the situation.

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    Heres the CPT 2010 dossier on Ireland :

    CPT: News Flash: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits Ireland

    (just reading it now, theres been some progress since the appalling 2006 report
    which was scandalous tbh)

    [CPT stands for Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane , or
    degrading treatment or Punishment]
    Last edited by Christine Murray; 12th May 2010 at 08:11 PM. Reason: EDIT : added in brief brackett-note on the CPT 2010

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    I think Lonergan was a publicity seeking do gooder. Constantly poured out the well worn theme about poverty resulting in crime, his involvement in Kilmacud Crokes, coming from Bansha, and a darling of the media. Better governors were never heard of
    You'd think Kenny committed Treason and brought in IMF. Cowen had all in stitches in Galway at 3.30a.m.but he was "not impaired" -DD Power. FF=Publican páirtí an IMF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomas Mor View Post
    I think Lonergan was a publicity seeking do gooder. Constantly poured out the well worn theme about poverty resulting in crime, his involvement in Kilmacud Crokes, coming from Bansha, and a darling of the media. Better governors were never heard of
    It seems that he will be remembered for his highlighting 'the poverty results in crime' ( which is true) rather than highlighting the overcrowding and inhumane conditions in Mountjoy.
    Should he have made more of an effort in his relations with the media at pointing out the appalling conditions in the prison. Should he have resigned or threatened to resign unless something was done?

    On the drugs question it as an absolute disgrace that convicted prisoners are allowed consume illegal hard drugs in the prison. It is likely to be just a matter of time before some of our wonderfullegal friends successfully take a case against the state on behalf of a client who will claim that they 'became addicts while in the care of the state'. If (when) this happens, those who allowed this situation to prevail must be held to account.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonpartyboy View Post
    How the hell do all these lefties manage to get in to positions of power in the prison service ? You commit the crime you do the time, get over it !. Prison conditions in this country aren't half bad enough.
    I can't be arsed finding the links but it is well known that the worse conditions are in prisons the greater is the level of recidivism.

    I think Lonergan did a good job with the resources he was given. I'm not sure why he was on the radio so often, chat shows and the like.

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