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Prison break Former prison governor says drop in numbers being jailed is due to Covid-19 pandemic

"There has been a massive reduction in the number of court sittings and the amount of business they are doing"

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Mountjoy Prison

Mountjoy Prison

Mountjoy Prison

Former Mountjoy Prison governor John Lonergan has attributed a significant drop in the number of people being sent to prison to the pandemic.

According to Newstalk, new figures show that 29pc fewer people were jailed in the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2019.

The 2,954 people jailed in the first six months of this year is down slightly on last year and over 1,200 fewer than in 2019.

Mr Lonergan who was Governor of Mountjoy Prison until his retirement in 2010, said the drop is related to the pandemic.

“There has been a massive reduction in the number of court sittings and the amount of business they are doing,” he said.

“A second factor would be that the courts, I understand, would be granting bail more liberally – if at all possible being conscious of Covid.

“But I have no doubt at all that, when normality resumes again, that the trends that were there in 2019 - trends that were showing an increase in committals - will resume again.”

There are 3,150 people currently serving a sentence in prison, according to the figures.

Of those, 410 are doing time for murder or a similar homicide offence, and 435 are in jail for sex offences.

A total of 362 are serving a life-sentence – 352 men and 10 women.

Mr Lonergan said Ireland sends a relatively low number of people to prison.

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“We are around 77-80 per 100,000 population,” he said.

“In Denmark and Holland and places like that, it is around 60 while in the US it is around 660 per 100,000 people.”

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