Juveniles In Portlaoise Prison In The 1960s.

TDs Wallace and Daly in court to support criminal Leon Wright who was cleared of assaulting a prison officer
Leon Wright

Tom Tuite
19/10/2016 | 18:44
A violent criminal has been cleared of assaulting a prison officer when he was searched for weapons.

Leon Wright (28) of Donore Avenue in Dublin 8 remained handcuffed and flanked by five prison staff wearing riot gear for his district court trial on Wednesday.

Wright, who claimed he was beaten by prison officers, was supported in court by Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly who took notes of the proceedings from the public gallery.

After the defence raised questions over the credibility of prosecution witnesses and evidence, Judge Alan Mitchell said that having viewed the CCTV evidence in particular he was dismissing the case.

He also said that he was going to direct that the Court Service would prepare a copy of the digital audio recording of the hearing and that it would be offered to Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly in the event he would like to “take further action”.



  1. paddoconnell said,

    17/10/2017 at 10:48 pm

    Irish author Brendan Behan wrote about his experiences in an English borstal – St Patrick’s was also originally based on this penal model.
    Irish author Brendan Behan wrote about his experiences in an English borstal – St Patrick’s was also originally based on this penal model.
    Image: Borstal Boy film via IMDB
    “Your borstal is a disgrace”: A grim century of St Pat’s
    St Patrick’s Institution started in Co Tipperary – and was once condemned by Fr Edward Flanagan of ‘Boys’ Town’ fame.
    Apr 4th 2015, 10:00 PM 30,359 24

    THE CLOSURE OF St Patrick’s Institution in Dublin this week marks the end of 109 years of borstal treatment in Ireland.

    Yes, you read that correctly. While the language of penology changes over the decades, St Patrick’s was indeed a borstal and that is how it began life in south Tipperary in 1906.

    Perceptions of St Patrick’s have evolved over the years and the institution and its inmates have quite often been the victims of a distorted public image. Most Irish people, however, will have forgotten how it all began.

    We must go back to late-19th century Britain to explore the origins of the concept that led to St Patrick’s. One of the central recommendations of an 1895 British parliamentary investigation into the prison system was the establishment of a penal reformatory to punish and reform the high volume of habitual young male offenders.

    In 1901, following several years of consultation, an experimental institution was established when a handful of male criminals between the ages of 16 and 21 years were held in a separate wing of a local prison in a village in Kent. The name of that village was Borstal and that experiment marked the beginning of one of the most enlightened – for its time – yet ultimately controversial, penal initiatives of the twentieth century.

    UK Crime – Incarceration – Borstals Young inmates in an early borstal at Feltham, London, as the penal institution went widespread across the UK and over to Tipperary.
    Source: PA Archive

    Having been deemed an early success in Kent, the ‘borstal’ system, as it was now known, was extended to Ireland where it was opened in May 1906 as a separate wing of the existing local prison in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

    For four years the inmates were detained in separation from the adult prisoners and in 1910 the latter were transferred elsewhere and the complex was fully converted into Ireland’s first and, for 50 years, only borstal institution.

    The system was not intended for first offenders but for those who were already on the path to habitual criminality. With a strong emphasis on education, training, physical drill and moral guidance, borstal was not for the faint of heart or body.

    From England to Clonmel

    Between 1906 and 1921, a quarter of all inmates originated from Dublin and another quarter from Belfast. An institution was established in Belfast in 1926. Most of those in Clonmel were detained for offences including larceny, house-breaking, animal theft, assault and a low number for sexual crimes.

    Clonmel borstal enjoyed mixed fortunes as the decades progressed, its greatest challenges coming from a continued lack of proper infrastructural investment from government. In 1922 as the civil war took hold in Ireland the institution was commandeered for military purposes and the boys were moved farther south in Tipperary to Clogheen workhouse.

    They were subsequently burned out by anti-treaty forces and the institution was forced to move to Kilkenny workhouse until 1924 when it returned to Clonmel. During the 1920s and 1930s Clonmel borstal suffered from a degree of stagnation and did not progress at the same pace as the British institutions.


    In late 1940 the complex at Clonmel was once again taken over for military purposes at the height of the Emergency. The institution was moved to a separate wing of Cork prison for six years where borstal in Ireland continued to experience the same level of neglect.

    In Cork the boys were subjected to education, trades training and a form of gymnastics known as Sokol drill which began in Czechoslovakia in the 1860s.

    While St Patrick’s Institution came in for much criticism in the later 20th century the first high-profile condemnation came somewhat unexpectedly in 1946. Father Edward Flanagan was the legendary Roscommon-born founder of the Boys’ Town home for destitute boys in Omaha, Nebraska.

    On a visit to Ireland during the summer of that year he declared:

    From what I have seen since coming to this country, your institutions are not all noble, particularly your borstal, which are a disgrace.
    PA-8694734 Fr Edward J Flanagan, right, pictured here with the US Forces commander in Austria General Keyes in 1948.
    Source: AP/Press Association Images

    By this time Flanagan was already a renowned expert in his field and was portrayed by Spencer Tracy in the MGM motion picture, Boys Town. Despite a solid reputation in America and around the world, his comm

  2. paddoconnell said,

    02/11/2017 at 9:15 pm

    Reblogged this on Paddoconnell's Blog.

  3. paddoconnell said,

    12/12/2017 at 12:12 am

    THE MAJORITY OF children sent to prison in Ireland in the 1960s were not offenders, instead they were imprisoned for issues relating to neglect and poverty – often common threads in their stories.

    Dr Fiachra Byrne from the School of History in UCD told TheJournal.ie, “They were suffering from status offences.

    Despite the rhetoric of the importance of family by the Irish State – that didn’t apply to all children in Ireland, especially the ones who were put into institutions.
    Ireland’s relationship with young offenders continues to cause problems for the State.

    St Patrick’s Institution closed its doors on 7 April this year and all 17-year-olds are now sent to Oberstown. Announcing the closure the Minister for Justice at the time Frances Fitzgerald said:

    St Patrick’s Institution has been the subject of much criticism by various bodies and persons involved in the area of human rights and children’s rights. The signing of these orders will now consign the name of St Patrick’s to the history books and is a significant and progressive step forward in the treatment of children.
    However Oberstown is not without its problems and there has been a string of high-profile episodes at the detention centre. Last August a major fire broke out at the centre after young offenders climbed onto the roof of the building during a protest.

    In May, staff were threatened and assaulted before three youths escaped using an angle grinder to cut through the perimeter fence.

    In July, the director of the facility Pat Bergin confirmed two incidents involving inmates, one of which required garda intervention. Last month a teenage boy was accused of causing €50k damage at the young offenders centre.

    During this atmosphere of tension in our current detention services for young offenders, Dr Byrne is looking at Ireland’s past and how we treated young offenders as adults, keeping them in their cells for 14 hours a day and implementing punishment diets and isolation.

    Byrne is researching the mental health of juveniles in custodial institutions in Ireland and England from 1850-2000 as part of the project Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000.

    He explained that there was a huge resistance to child psychology in Ireland up to the 1950s due to the close connections between state and church. ”Psychology was often seen as subversive to Catholic morals,” he claims.

    “That changes slightly in the 1950s, we then incorporate bits of child psychology without affecting Catholicism.”

    In the early 1960s, Artane Industrial school had over 700 boys, Byrne described them as, “Quite young kids with almost no offenders at all in there.

    These children were kids deprived of a normal home life and they didn’t have proper affection.
    The first child guidance (care for psychologically or emotionally disturbed children) didn’t start in Ireland until 1965, but that would have started in the UK in the 1920s. Byrne added:

    Psychology here was dominated by priests in the 1930s. Proper studies were not started until the late 1950, early 1960s.
    “They were still very much in a Catholic framework but there were liberal elements to it. It was modernising within a context.”

    Bread, water and isolation

    St Patrick’s Institution was the main penal repository for boys aged 16-17 years who were sentenced to prison in Dublin. By the late 1960s, it had an average population of about 170 and, by the early 1970s, its average population exceeded 200.

    A survey of boys in St Patrick’s in 1967 found that 69% had been committed for property crimes, while 24% had been committed for violent crimes.

    Byrne said that although St Patrick’s Institution catered for juvenile prisoners in terms of regime and physical environment, it differed little from prisons for adults. The children spent around 14 hours a day in their cells.

    In 1971, the chaplain to St Patrick’s, Gabriel Slattery, described this as a “considerable length of time”, adding: “The psychological effects of this must be very serious especially for retarded or illiterate boys.”

    Punishment also mirrored adult prisons. It consisted of restricted diets, solitary confinement and loss of remission.

    Inmates could be placed on a diet of bread and water for a three days during which time they would be confined to a small basement cell isolated from all contact by three locked doors and two corridors.

    Describing the condition of the confinement, Slattery said: “The tiny window in these cells is well below ground level. The only furniture provided is a mattress, a few blankets, and a chamber pot in the corner. There is no table, no chair and no bed.

    The cell is no larger than a domestic bathroom. The removal of the mattress during the day in some cases means that a boy must sit on the wooden floor and walk around the cell for 23 hours a day for three continuous days. The 24th hour the boy spends walking in circles around the walled-in tarmac watched by an officer only and cut off from all others.
    After three days, the boy would normally be moved onto a diet of some porridge, potatoes, bread and water. He would still be confined to a cell but in a different section of the prison where it might contain an iron bed, a chair and a desk. This punishment could continue for up to 15 days.

    The prisoners could then face into another 15 days where they were deprived of cigarettes and recreation, returning to their cells at 4.30pm after work and remaining there until the following morning.

    Watershed Moment

    In England, steps were being taken to humanise institutions in the 50s and 60s but that didn’t happen over here until the 70s when new institutions – such as St Laurence’s in Finglas – were set up.

    The Kennedy Report in 1970 was the first time the severe issues in juvenile custody were recognised at policy level.

    Byrne said the report “signaled a significant disenchantment with the institutionalisation of children in Ireland” and highlighted the importance of the emotional and psychological needs of children.

    The Kennedy Report described educational and training facilities in the institutions as “insufficient and primitive”.

    “St Patrick’s is an old style penitentiary building with rows of cells, iron gates and iron spiral staircases. Offenders, in the main, occupy single cells. These are small and gloomy and each one has a small barred window almost at ceiling level. Offenders are held in these cells for approximately fourteen hours per day,” it said.

    The system of locking young persons into a cell alone for a good portion of the 24 hours can hardly be conducive rehabilitation. We feel that something should be done to improve conditions there.
    The report recommended that inappropriate and inadequate institutions should be closed, that remaining services should be professionalised and that the emotional and mental well-being of children in care should be catered for. It also recommended that psychological and psychiatric assessment should be provided.

    Byrne described how, as time went on, Ireland’s institutions for children grew independent from church and gravitated more towards international norms.

    Byrne said, “They started hiring social workers but some of those turned out to be sexually abusing the boys so the switch certainly didn’t solve all problems.”

    Setting cells on fire and swallowing nails

    The year after the report was published, the chaplain of St Patrick’s Institution Gabriel Slattery wrote to Archbishop Charles McQuaid describing how some of the boys were protesting as one wing on the building was being ‘hacked down’ in preparation for plastering the cells. The boys were confined in semi-demolished, dust-filled cells due to pressure of numbers.

    Slattery told McQuaid that in the previous weeks, more than a dozen boys swallowed nails in protest including one boy who swallowed a buckle. He said that two boys cut their wrists with glass and one boy tried to burn his cell while locked in at night but he was saved.

    Another boy tried to stab another inmate with a knife because he had tried to stop a 15-year-old from jumping off a balcony. Slattery said the 15-year-old told him that he was terrified when locked up in his cell at night on his own.

    Dr Byrne said the grim historical narrative of these institutions shows systematic neglect and, frequently, child abuse.

    Byrne is a member of a team of historians at four different universities in England and Ireland that are working on the project Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000.

    Director of the UCD Centre for the History of Medicine, Associate Professor Catherine Cox, is a co-principal investigator of the project. Cox and Byrne presented some of their research at Parnell Summer School earlier this month.

    • paddoconnell said,

      21/12/2017 at 12:41 am

      Prejudice among Gardai: ‘Institutional classism’ in the Garda

      On 8 July, a Saturday evening, a young man phoned me from outside a Dublin city-centre garda station. He had gone there to report an assault on him earlier that evening. He was distressed. The cause of his distress was not so much the assault, but rather the fact that the garda on duty refused to deal with his complaint. He was told to “go away”. The actual phrase used (according to the young man) would not be suitable for publication.

      When I phoned the Garda station to inquire why this had occurred, I was told: “He had a smell of drink on him.” From my knowledge of this young man, this is possible, however he told me he had not taken drink. He certainly did not sound drunk.

      Another explanation is possible, namely that it is common for gardaí in Dublin not to accept reports of crime from some people of a particular background. This young man has a considerable number of arrests and convictions connected to years of childhood adversity, homelessness and addiction. His was the second such story I heard last week. In fact, I regularly hear such stories from others with similar backgrounds.

      I also know that many young people in Dublin from this type of background believe they cannot rely on the protection of law when they fall victim to crime. When they are mugged, assaulted, or have goods stolen they cannot turn to the gardaí.

      They are acutely aware of the injustice. As perpetrators of crime they know they are not above the law, yet as victims of crime they get no protection from the law. This, in part, explains the rise of a culture of violence in our capital, as young people believe they have no option but to take the law into their own hands.

      That some gardaí disregard the class of the young person I refer to signals a broader problem that affects the entire police force, including the large number of gardaí who carry out their duties with fairness and within the law.

      We might learn from the Laurence Inquiry which highlighted that racism in the London Metropolitan Police was not just an issue that affected isolated members of the force, but rather it suggested that the real issue was a culture of institutional racism within the entire force. In Dublin, I am convinced there is a culture of “institutional classism” within the Garda Síochána directed at young people from working-class areas.

      Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Dublin 1

  4. paddoconnell said,

    16/12/2017 at 1:49 pm


    Frankie Gaffney
    ‘If you are in favour of human rights, you must want them for everyone – including prisoners’
    ‘It is a mark of true sincerity, therefore, for politicians to take up unpopular causes like that of Leon Wright,’ writes author Frankie Gaffney.

    Image: Photocall Ireland
    Dec 14th 2016, 6:00 PM 11,224 109

    THERE WAS controversy when TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly decided to act as observers at a court hearing for a convict accused of assaulting prison staff.

    The Irish Independent, using a typically anonymous ‘senior source’, sensationally branded the young man in question as “one of the worst, if not the worst that the prison system has ever come across”.

    Most media reports similarly dwelled on severity of the defendant’s past crimes.

    Leon Wright: Inmate had ear bitten and torn by Mountjoy prison officer
    All such commentary studiously diverted attention from the real crux of this matter, the reason for Clare Daly and Mick Wallace’s concern: human rights.

    Yesterday, TheJournal.ie revealed the same prisoner had his ear bitten and torn by a prison officer during an altercation.

    You can take one of two positions on human rights: you are for them, or against them.

    If you are in favour of human rights, you must be in favour of them for everyone.

    No exceptions.

    You must be in favour of them for your enemies. You must be in favour of them precisely for the people you despise the most.

    Those who are against upholding the human rights of ANY individual, no matter what they have done (or have been accused of doing) align themselves not with law abiding citizens, but instead with the Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots, and Pinochets of this world.

    Deciding on an individual basis who is worthy of consideration as a human being and who isn’t is the essence of murderous totalitarianism. It is fundamentally incompatible with the most basic values of democracy.

    Lest it be said that I’m being insensitive to the plight of victims, it should be noted that I’m no stranger to violence myself. I’ve been the target of very serious attacks on a number of occasions.

    I’ve been punched, kicked, cut, bottled, battered with steel bars. I’ve been hospitalised – and even had to undergo emergency plastic surgery to correct the worst of these injuries.

    I know what it’s like. I know the physical and psychological trauma that violence causes.

    I lay the blame not on the perpetrators, however, who at a very young age were pushed into a spiral of criminality and violence they had no way of escaping.

    I lay the blame for the fact so many impoverished, uneducated and disenfranchised young men become embroiled in brutality squarely at the door of those who created this environment.

    To wit, the successive Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael administrations who have been in government since the foundation of the State. It is they who formed the brutal social landscape of the city I came of age in.

    Furthermore, they did little or nothing to ameliorate the horror that engulfed the inner-city from the 1980s on. On the contrary, they fueled this perfect crucible for savagery through their polices of prohibition combined with educational and economic deprivation.

    Lest you think I’m proposing some sort of “nanny-state” that molly-coddles its citizens, absolving them of any personal responsibility, just remember that private schools receive State funding. The big financial speculators – gamblers – got bailouts. And in the midst of the worst homelessness crisis in the history of the state, instead of building social housing, this government siphoned money into the hands of private landlords and developers as a matter of policy.

    We look after one segment of our population already. The wealthy and privileged do not suffer the consequences of their mistakes, they are not even held to account for their crimes.

    It is only the poor who have to deal with negative effects of the so-called ‘free’ market. As it stands, we have socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.
    If violence truly does appall you, you should want to stop it happening to anyone else.

    You should want to prevent re-offending.

    To do this, the State must adopt evidence-based approaches. Needless to say, none of the evidence suggests further brutalising people or depriving them of their human rights will achieve this.

    Punishment for punishment’s sake is not merely useless and cruel, if it in fact leads to more violent offending, creating more victims, it is evil.

    PastedImage-17813 File photo: TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace

    It is ironic that Wallace and Daly, and indeed the left more generally, are often accused of populism (for their stance on issues like water charges, for example).

    There are few policies less popular with voters than standing up for the rights of violent criminals.

    Politicians depend on the goodwill of their electorate for their career – for their livelihood.

    It is a mark of true sincerity, therefore, for TDs to take up unpopular causes like this.

    This stands in stark contrast to the establishment politicians, who are willing to pander to the most vile agendas in order to cynically flatter the prejudices of the electorate.

    When politicians champion the rights of those society deems worthless, those who have no voice, it is a sign that they truly are concerned not just with re-election.

    Not only with playing the game of popularity and public perception. It shows they actually want to break the cycle of violence, whether that violence emanates from disturbed young men – or from the State itself.

    • paddoconnell said,

      20/12/2017 at 9:49 pm

      By Anthony Sheridan

      David Aminu committed a crime by defrauding the Department of Social Welfare of €136,000 in welfare payments. The crime came to light in 2015 when Mr. Aminu wrote to the Dept. admitting his crime and offered to repay the stolen funds. An immediate Garda investigation was launched as a result of the confession. Mr. Aminu was charged, found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison.

      Mr. Aminu’s defence pleaded that he had confessed, was repaying the stolen funds and was unlikely to reoffend. It was also pointed out to the judge that if Mr. Aminu were sent to jail he would face automatic deportation on his release with serious consequences for his wife and family.

      None of this cut any mustard with the judge. Accepting that Aminu was a good man, that there would be long-term consequences for him and his family if a jail term was imposed and that the only aggravating factor was the actual crime the judge nevertheless took a stern and very narrow view.

      Aminu must suffer a term of imprisonment to punish him and deter others.

      Although this is an extremely harsh judgement it is, nevertheless, the law and in all functional democracies the law must be upheld and equally applied.

      Unfortunately, Ireland is not a functional democracy and, as a consequence, justice like that meted out to Mr. Aminu is strictly reserved for ordinary citizens.

      Those with power and influence are seldom subject to the law and can do pretty much as they please.

      Here are just some recent examples of how those with power and influence get away with serious criminality.

      On the same day that Mr. Aminu’s case was reported the Central Bank revealed that banks were admitting to thousands of additional cases of criminally defrauding those on tracker mortgages. The number of victims of this criminality has now reached over 30,000. People have lost their homes, their savings and some, it is thought, their lives. The Central Bank knew what was going on and did nothing; it’s still, effectively, protecting the criminal bankers. There have been no arrests, no charges, no justice.

      Senior civil servants are also protected by the state when they commit crimes, even when they openly admit guilt. Senior staff at the Office of Corporate Enforcement (the grandiose title always makes me laugh) responsible for the collapse of the Sean Fitzpatrick trial perverted the course of justice by deliberately destroying evidence and coaching witnesses. In functional democracies such crimes are taken very seriously. In Ireland there were no charges, no trial, the guilty were protected by the state.

      For 20 years now there has been an avalanche of criminality spewing from the ranks of our police force, we have yet to see a police officer on trial. Just recently, the most senior police officer in the state decided that no charges would be brought against any member of his force who were found to have falsified up to a million breath tests. The police chief said he was not prepared to spend huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on the scandal, that the money would be better spent on ‘protecting the community’ – from ordinary criminals like Mr. Aminu presumably.

      Predictably, there was no objection to this banana republic abuse of law enforcement from politicians or, indeed, judges.

      And then, of course, there’s the criminal politicians who, over the decades, have been defrauding the state through false expenses claims and robbing citizens money by stealing food and drink in the Dail bar and restaurant. Irish citizens won’t even be allowed to pass election judgement on these criminal politicians because, incredibly, data laws protect their identities.

      Just think about that, we live in a country where public representatives can openly rob citizen’s money and property with complete impunity and we’re not even allowed to know their names never mind throw them in jail.

      For so long as our country is misgoverned and exploited by a corrupt ruling elite we will rarely witness a judge say that a banker, police officer, government official or politician should be jailed

      I suspect that when Mr. Aminu sat down to write his letter of confession he was not aware that in Ireland there is no law for the rich and powerful and strict enforcement for ordinary decent citizens.

      I also suspect that if he knew the truth he would have burned that letter.

      Copy to:

      Senator Craughwell (Independent)

      I’m copying this article to Senator Craughwell in the hope it might help to inform him of the reality of corruption in Ireland. From a number of twitter conversations it is clear that the senator has little idea of how the disease of corruption is destroying the lives of countless thousands of Irish citizens.

  5. paddoconnell said,

    21/12/2017 at 12:39 am

    Prejudice among Gardai: ‘Institutional classism’ in the Garda

    On 8 July, a Saturday evening, a young man phoned me from outside a Dublin city-centre garda station. He had gone there to report an assault on him earlier that evening. He was distressed. The cause of his distress was not so much the assault, but rather the fact that the garda on duty refused to deal with his complaint. He was told to “go away”. The actual phrase used (according to the young man) would not be suitable for publication.

    When I phoned the Garda station to inquire why this had occurred, I was told: “He had a smell of drink on him.” From my knowledge of this young man, this is possible, however he told me he had not taken drink. He certainly did not sound drunk.

    Another explanation is possible, namely that it is common for gardaí in Dublin not to accept reports of crime from some people of a particular background. This young man has a considerable number of arrests and convictions connected to years of childhood adversity, homelessness and addiction. His was the second such story I heard last week. In fact, I regularly hear such stories from others with similar backgrounds.

    I also know that many young people in Dublin from this type of background believe they cannot rely on the protection of law when they fall victim to crime. When they are mugged, assaulted, or have goods stolen they cannot turn to the gardaí.

    They are acutely aware of the injustice. As perpetrators of crime they know they are not above the law, yet as victims of crime they get no protection from the law. This, in part, explains the rise of a culture of violence in our capital, as young people believe they have no option but to take the law into their own hands.

    That some gardaí disregard the class of the young person I refer to signals a broader problem that affects the entire police force, including the large number of gardaí who carry out their duties with fairness and within the law.

    We might learn from the Laurence Inquiry which highlighted that racism in the London Metropolitan Police was not just an issue that affected isolated members of the force, but rather it suggested that the real issue was a culture of institutional racism within the entire force. In Dublin, I am convinced there is a culture of “institutional classism” within the Garda Síochána directed at young people from working-class areas.

    Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Dublin 1

  6. 07/03/2018 at 6:39 pm

    research has found greater risks to public safety among children transferred to the adult system.

    2. Youth prosecuted as adults lack access to rehabilitative treatment, increasing their chances of reoffending. Sentencing juveniles as adults not only fails to reduce recidivism, but it also fails to provide youth with age-appropriate rehabilitative treatment that will allow them to lead productive lives post-incarceration.

    3. Incarcerating youth in adult prisons puts their lives at risk. Youth incarcerated in adult prisons are extraordinarily vulnerable to victimization, in the form of physical and sexual abuse and even death. Adolescents are also far more likely to be psychologically affected by the confinement and restrictions imposed than their adult counterparts and are thus far more likely to commit suicide.

    4. Youth of color are disproportionately sentenced as adults. The disproportionate rates at which youth of color are sentenced as adults compared to white youth undermines the legitimacy of the sentences imposed.

    5. Prosecuting youth as adults exposes them to harmful and lasting stigma. The stigma and barriers that a child must face when tried as an adult will last well into adulthood, regardless of how he or she might change his or her behavior; the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can be disastrous for employment, educational, and housing prospects.

    6. Case law shows that youth have a better chance at rehabilitation than adults. Recent United States Supreme Court case law underscores the differences between children and adults; this case law confirms that youth have lessened culpability and greater amenability to rehabilitation, even when they have committed violent crimes.

    Accordingly, youth should not be housed with adults, in adult prisons.

  7. 07/03/2018 at 6:50 pm

    Reblogged this on Oconnellpadd13's Blog.

  8. 07/03/2018 at 8:44 pm

    The original 1985 edition of Children of the Poor Clares was the first book to expose the reality of the treatment of children placed in church care in Ireland’s post-independence horrendous industrial school system. Giving an intimate picture, covering over four decades, of life in one of these institutions, it documented the gross physical and emotional abuse, neglect, malnourishment, exploitation, lack of proper education, deprivation, and humiliation that scarred the children for life. It further identified the collusion of the state and its own lawbreaking that enabled the abuse in its vast apparatus of incarceration of impoverished children. This revised updated edition gives chilling details of revelations that have since become public and of the state’s ultimate responsibility for what took place.

  9. paddoconnell said,

    10/04/2018 at 10:26 pm

    From scumbag to student’: The power of prison education
    A former prisoner, who went from drug dealer to master’s student, has called for more funding for education in prisons. He admitted it will be “a hard sell”.
    Sunday 25 May 2014 08:00 16,528 54
    Source: Shutterstock

    MICHAEL* COMPLETED HIS Leaving Certificate while serving a four-year drugs-related sentence in a Dublin prison.

    “I’d never done [the Leaving Cert]. It was just a personal thing, I wanted to see if I had applied myself in school. I always wondered ‘Could I have done it?’ I found out I could.”

    Michael said achieving this “set the ball rolling” in terms of his education. He now has a master’s degree.

    He initially started to go to the prison’s school to simply get the chance to have conversations with people removed from prison life. He said he owes a lot to his teachers, who were “separate from the prison officers” and treated him “like a human being, not a prisoner”.

    “I didn’t know it at the time, but each [teacher] was there at the right time,” he recalled.

    I had a bad experience of school. It was ‘get down, shut, up.’ College was never an option for me. Motivation? I didn’t even know what it was.
    Michael said school in prison was different for him as the teachers there “value your opinion and encourage you to read”. He also completed a number of FETAC courses while inside.

    As a result of his own experience, Michael knows first-hand how important education can be in stopping criminals re-offending or ending up homeless.

    He said that many people return to crime when they are released as they cannot read or write and have little chance of getting work – something exacerbated by having to tell potential employers about any previous convictions.

    Michael said he understands why the Irish Prison Service’s education budget has been cut but is concerned about the long-term implications.

    He is also aware that many people will not care a huge deal about the issue.

    If you said to me ‘prison education or Crumlin hospital’, I know who I’d give my money to.
    “I had a passion for [education] and it turned my life around. My life is totally different now to the life I had ten years ago.”

    Not least, it helped him get clean.

    When in prison, Michael attended school from 10am – 12pm and 2 pm – 4 pm, Monday to Friday. However, if a prison officer was out sick, “access to the school was one of first things to be cut”.

    “Education doesn’t get the priority it deserves [in prison],” he stated.

    ‘Red thumbs’
    There were about 12 men in his class, some of whom were studying for the Leaving Certificate and others for the Junior Certificate. ”There was a fairly good completion rate, the teachers had a fairly captive audience,” he joked.

    To this day, he remains in touch with some of the teachers he credits with changing his life. “They’re proud of me, but not half as proud my mother.”

    Source: Shutterstock

    He admitted that calling for greater educational resources in prisons is “never going to be popular”.

    I can see the red thumbs on TheJournal.ie now. They give out about people re-offending and the cost to the taxpayer, but if you intervene early and put the bit of effort in, it can make a real difference.

    Is prison for retribution or rehabilitation?

    What good is locking them away and treating them like an animal? They might be strung out on drugs, from a broken family. I’m not playing the poor mouth ‘my mother never loved me’ line but it’s true.

    Michael added that prison is about network-building and if those on the inside aren’t educated, this will foster more crime on the outside.

    “For me its a no-brainer, but it’s a very tough sell.”

    If you put a bit of effort into someone, instead of being identified as a prisoner or a scumbag, they’re a student.
    He noted that many of the men he knows who received an education in prison go back to their communities upon their release and work in drugs rehabilitation centres and youth clubs.

    Michael said there will “always be a stigma” associated to an ex-prisoner but noted that this changes over time, albeit slowly.

    There are currently 13 vacancies for prison-based workshop or training posts nationally, six of which are in Midlands Prison.

    Each prison has a library. Opening hours range from an ‘on demand’ service in certain institutions to 77 hours a week in Portlaoise Prison. Most other prison libraries operate from seven to 37.5 hours weekly.

    ‘A scandal’
    Dr Kevin Warner was the Education Coordinator in the Irish prison system for nearly 30 years until 2009.

    He has also worked in Europe and North America, and founded the European Prison Education Association. He is a board member of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

    Relative to the overall cost of the prison system, education is minor really, but it has been cut disproportionately in recent years in relation to other activities.
    Warner said there are more than 300 individuals teaching in Irish prison, the equivalent of about 220 full-time staff.

    Dr Warner noted that the Irish Prison Service, which falls under the remit of the Department of Justice, has said it costs about €65,000-70,000 to keep a single prisoner locked up for a year. He thinks this is an underestimate, saying the real figure is probably closer to €80,000 and “very high by international standards”.

    This still marks a significant drop from €97,700 per prisoner per year – the cost in 2007.

    Dr Warner said the decrease is partly due to a change in the calculation method, and not including certain expenses such as teaching and prison maintenance.

    In 2008, €220,539 was spent by the IPS on Open University courses, when 108 prisoners availed of the offer. This figure was reduced to €100,000 in 2011 – where it still stands.

    Some 36 prisoners from Ireland’s 14 prisons are pursuing OU courses at present.

    “You’ve spent all this money to lock them up in a destructive environment, if they’re ready for something like Open University it should be there for them.”

    ‘Phasing out higher education’
    Dr Warner believes the only reason the initiative wasn’t scrapped entirely is because a number of prisoners threatened legal action.

    In 2011, an art course that was facilitated by the National College of Art and Design and ran in Portlaoise Prison from 1987 onwards was terminated.

    “They’re clearly phasing out higher education in prisons.”

    Dr Warner said such harsh cutbacks are “a scandal” as prison education is of “enormous benefit to prisoners and also to society”.

    Source: Shutterstock

    He said there has never been any problem getting prisoners to engage with education, citing access as the main issue.

    During his three decades working in the Irish prison education system, he saw first-hand how it could make “a big difference to a lot of people”.

    Education gives people a different sense of themselves, a different view on life. It changes their perspective on themselves and the wider world.
    He added that it helps prisoners “cope with sentences” and affords them an opportunity to “get away from the landing where the talk is all about drugs”.

    “They think: ‘I can tell my parents and my partner about this, it’s something I’m proud of.’”

    About 1,057 prisoners are doing FETAC-accredited vocational training courses in a wide range of areas such as computers, woodwork, braille and horticulture.

    Dr Warner said these courses are valuable but somewhat pointless if prisoners don’t have any where to progress to.

    “If people get beyond the level of FETAC and beyond the level of the Leaving Certificate, there should be third level education options available to them. There’s no point doing FETAC courses if you’re way beyond that level.”

    He noted that some prisoners are not interested in the type of certificate they receive, if any, adding that they want to learn for the sake of learning itself.

    “I don’t think there’s any doubt [education] does help people not to re-offend.”

    Dr Warner said that there needs to be a shift in the public’s opinion of prisoners.

    If people start with a distorted image of prison and a distorted image of the people in prison, it’s very hard [to change their minds]. People need to accept that prison damages people severely, in all sorts of ways.

    Education can limit that damage and help them survive prison.

    Some people think they’re all ‘scum’ like the tabloid headlines say … it’s not true. Only a minority of prisoners are violent. Most people in prison are as much sinned against as sinners.

    They have problems. We’re not absolving them, but they need to be seen as people with as much good and bad in them as the rest of us.

    If they’re locked up they should still have the opportunity to develop.

  10. paddoconnell said,

    22/06/2018 at 12:07 pm

    The first night, unlike primus noctus, I settled in for the night in
    Cork prison 1991.
    I write to record, also to remember, but never lament.
    16 years of age, I was transfered to cork prison, from Wheatfield place of detention. After beating from screws, coming off a late visit one Friday. Monday first thing out of the trap, I asked to see the governor, to request a visit from the visiting committee.I wanted make my complaint official.
    A teacher in the education unit had witnessed the assault. I asked the governor to request a news reporter from any media to hear my story. In my Naievity I was asked who witnessed it. I felt empowered by my ace card, but I showed my hand to early. So I left feeling I had achieved something.
    I then went to the school and I met Jane the English teacher going to class. I called her over to to a quiet corner.
    She asked how I was and showed her my shoulder, she grimaced. I then explained my intentions of my grieience procedure and ask her would she be a witness for me, to which she agreed.

    No great detail of that morning. But later that evening, a few screws came to my door and told me I was going back to the borstal. Delighted with myself, I had my kit sort before you could say n c r.
    Down in the reception getting back my civies, I slipped to my 501s, and my addidas torsion. I was Johnny come lately, on the way to the north side, home. Fucking deadly. Gate 1 in transfer order shown gate closed. Gate 2 opened, and off we went up the avenue of screws cars. First sight of the outside in 6 months. Nearing the end of the avenue expecting the usual right back through baller, the n c r. The dog box takes the right toward the the Nass rd. Puzzled I asked asked the gossie, what the fuck, where we going😮 cork, Wtf why.

    Page two tomorrow 😎

  11. paddoconnell said,

    13/07/2018 at 4:24 pm

    Laoise NeylonLAOISE NEYLONJULY 12, 2017
    It was the day before Christmas Eve when Kelly Ann Jennings, a homeless, pregnant woman was arrested and charged with theft – for taking a packet of candles from a church near the Mater Hospital.

    She was living in a squat at the time and, according to the Herald, she said she took the candles as she “was trying to keep herself safe”.

    That was in 2014, and the case came before the courts in April of this year. The judge put back sentencing, waiting for a probation report.

    Anthony O’Connell was also in court in April, accused of stealing three Cadbury Creme Eggs from Lidl on Moore Street, according to the Independent, a charge he denied.

    The judge expressed surprise that he was there at all. “Three state witnesses, him, a judge and a solicitor, for a Cadbury’s Creme Egg?” Judge Halpin asked, according to the article.

    O’Connell was before the court again on Monday last, but the case was struck out because the Garda witness didn’t appear.

    Is prosecuting cases like these a good use of resources? A Garda Press Officer said he couldn’t discuss individual cases, but he spoke generally about how decisions are taken on whether to prosecute for minor offences.

    “Each case is taken on its merits,” he said. “Gardaí deal every day with vulnerable people and liaise with other agencies in relation to any assistance available.”

    Who Decides?
    “The decision to prosecute is a serious one. It can have a lasting effect on both the victim of the crime and the accused person,” said the Garda spokesperson.

    “Only the DPP or one of his/her lawyers may decide whether to prosecute in serious cases for example, murder, sexual offences or fatal road accidents,” he says.

    With minor offences, though, the Gardai can take the case themselves. They take it in the name of the DPP, and the DPP can instruct them on how to deal with the case, the spokesperson said.

    Gardai can also decide to give an adult caution to someone for a minor offence, rather than prosecuting them, but this is usually only for first-time offenders.

    A first-time offender who does come before the courts for a minor offence will normally get probation if they plead guilty, says Ivana Bacik, a criminologist at Trinity College Dublin. This means they won’t have a criminal record.

    Garda Discretion
    Gardaí can and do exercise discretion in deciding whether to bring cases to court, says Bacik.

    There has been no significant research examining Garda discretion in Ireland, as far as she is aware. But there may be warning signs in the Garda Inspectorate Report on policing from 2015.

    “There is a strong concern in that report that the Guards aren’t being trained to be consistent in the exercise of powers generally, so that would affect discretion,” she says.

    In the UK, there is a large body of researching examining policing discretion, she says.

    There they have found that race was a factor in stop-and-searches, she says. Non-white people were stopped more often, and this resulted in minorities having a disproportionate number of convictions. (A 2009 EU-MIDIS survey in Dublin found that 59 percent of Sub-Saharan Africans reported being stopped by police in the previous 12 months.)

    That could also be a concern here in terms of the Traveller community, says Fíona Ní Chinnéide, the acting executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

    “Certain minority groups are more targeted. You will probably find that Travellers are more policed and then end up with more convictions,” she says.

    The Garda Press Office didn’t respond to a query about how they can be certain that personal bias doesn’t come into decisions to prosecute for minor offences.

    Social Class
    “Social class is undoubtedly a factor in the Irish criminal justice system, and it would be odd if it wasn’t, because it is in every other criminal justice system,” says Bacik who has done research into bias in sentencing.

    She led a major piece of research in 1998, which looked at the effects of social class, or deprivation, on sentences in the district courts in Ireland.

    They used the address of the accused person and the deprivation score for that area.

    “We found that people were much more likely to be sent to prison, for the same offence, if they lived in very deprived areas,” says Bacik.

    They also found there was a sharp increase in the likelihood of a custodial sentence being handed down when it came to people living in the most deprived areas.

    “It wasn’t a gradual increase. In fact, what we found was a tipping point. When the level of disadvantage tips into seriously deprived, your risk of imprisonment goes way up,” she says.

    This was in line with what researchers discovered in the US too, she says.

    Repeat Minor Offenders
    The biggest factor in deciding whether someone is prosecuted for a minor offence, is their previous convictions, says Bacik.

    In the case of persistent repeat minor offenders, there may be some public benefit to prosecuting small crimes, she says.

    “There is some quite strong evidence that taking a tough line on minor crime does actually have a beneficial effect for neighbourhoods,” Bacik says.

    If there is an ongoing problem with public order in an area, some prosecutions, and policing that is seen to be effective, can be helpful, says Bacik. (Although there are better ways to tackle public order like public investment, she says.)

    The big problem isn’t when minor cases go to court, but when they result in custodial sentences, says Bacik. “There are far too many people in jail in Ireland for short sentences for minor non-violent offences. That is where the public good is clearly not being served,” she says.

    Imprisoning people for minor offences is counter-productive, she says, and we need to tackle disadvantage if that is the cause of the crime.

    Ní Chinnéide of the Irish Penal Reform Trust says some people who offend have a string of very minor charges, but they are persistently offending and other people are fed up with that, such as shopkeepers or their neighbours.

    These cases are very different from serious offending, she says. “For people who are living in poverty, a lot of punitive approaches only compound those issues and don’t address the offending behaviour,” she says.

    Alternative Approaches
    “There are a range of alternative approaches, but they require investment up front and the political will to do that,” says Ní Chinnéide.

    The youth justice system is really successful, she says. The Garda Diversion Programme has been working well, according to a 2011 report.

    The programme aims to support young people not to re-offend, by assigning a garda to the case and putting supports in place that might be educational, or counselling, or recreational activities.

    Ní Chinnéide would like to see a similar programme rolled out for adults who are involved in minor offences.

    Although she says, “Judges are not wildly punitive of people with low level of offending”, she would like to see more community-service orders in place.

    These can be positive, and some even provide an opportunity for the offender to get involved in work, she says.

    Repeat low-level offenders should be dealt with in a community court, rather than criminal justice court, she says.

    In community courts, “there may be a punitive element, but it is mainly about putting in place services and treatment to deal with offending behaviour”, she says. Unfortunately, these are expensive to set up, she says.

    Community courts, restorative justice, mentoring, integrated community service orders, which include treatment for addictions or mental health, these are the way to tackle minor offending, says Ni Chinnéide.

    There are excellent pilot projects that should be rolled out nationally, says Bacik. One is a restorative justice project, and another is for people with mental-health problems.

    “An awful lot of the people on recurrent public-order charges actually have psychiatric issues, says Bacik. “There is a pilot diversion project running in Dublin District Court, where the court diverts people to psychiatric services.”

    This needs to be rolled out nationally, she says.

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