Dáil Éireann - Volume 450 - 08 March, 1995

Written Answers. - Drug Abuse in Prisons.

138. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice the services available to [603] drug-abusing prisoners in each of the State's prisons; if she has satisfied herself with the adequacy of these services; the plans, if any, she has to expand these services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5142/95]

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): All prisoners who are found to be drug dependent have immediate access to medical services skilled in managing problems with drugs. In addition they have access to a full range of psychiatric and psychology services within the prison system and they may receive outside hospital treatment as required. Community-based agencies who are involved with the treatment of drug addiction problems also regularly visit the prisons to counsel offenders. Offenders who show the necessary commitment to rehabilitation, and do not appear to pose a threat to the community, may be considered for release to attend community-based drug treatment centres, and where appropriate they are supervised by the Probation and Welfare Service.

The departmental policy document “The Management of Offenders — A Five Year Plan” contains in Chapter 13 a discussion of the drug problem. It indicates that it is planned, through the medium of the Departmental steering Committee which is in place to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases in Prisons to establish how best to manage the problems of both access to drugs and the treatment/ rehabilitation of drug-addicted offenders. In this context the question of providing extended maintenance programmes to [604] prisoners along the lines now being followed by community-based treatment agencies is currently under active consideration.