A NEW STATE of the art prison facility designed for Ireland’s most challenging prisoners was officially opened today.
The new National Violence Reduction Unit is based in the Midlands Prison – away from the main prison population.
It is intended to be used for some of the country’s most prolific and violent inmates. The unit is the first of its kind in Ireland and may be rolled out in a number of different institutions in the future, according to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan who was there to officially open the unit.
There are nearly 4,000 people in custody in Ireland today but the new facility will only be able to house a maximum of nine people. Those admitted to the unit will have a high propensity for violence.
Prison officers will be armed with batons and will wear body cameras at all times – a new departure for the Irish Prison Service.
There are also areas where prisoners will be able to watch television and play computer games – but access to the multi purpose room will only be granted after months of intense treatment and where the team working with the prisoner feel that he has made enough progress.
Officially opening the newly refurbished Irish Prison Service College, which is also situated on the grounds of the Midlands Prison, Charlie Flanagan said that the safety of prison officers and the potential for the rehabilitation of the most violent of our prison communities were the driving forces behind the establishment of the unit.
He said: “The Prison Service is committed to ensuring that all staff feel safe and supported in their working environment. Earlier today I visited the new National Violence Reduction Unit in the Midlands Prison and met with the staff who will be based there.
“The establishment of the unit marks a significant change in how the Irish Prison Service engages with those prisoners who represent the highest risk of violence to staff, to other prisoners and to our communities.
This new approach will make the prison environment safer for all those who work and live in it. Its aim is to meet each prisoner’s complex needs, through improving their psychological health, their wellbeing, and their behaviour in a centre of excellence operated by you our highly motivated, highly trained and highly competent staff.