Weaker inmates ‘feeling safer’ after visits suspended to Irish jails
6th January 2022
The suspension of outside visits to Irish jails left many weaker inmates feeling safer as they were not being forced to help smuggle in drugs, prison sources have told the Irish Mirror.
Measures put in place by the Irish Prison Service to curb Covid outbreaks saw a huge reduction in narcotic use and assaults.
In-person visits remain a major route of trafficking drugs into prisons but when they were made virtual, use of substances fell dramatically.
In turn, assaults fell because there were fewer rows over drugs and not many people intoxicated within prison walls.
Sources have revealed how many lags were also much happier confined to their cells for longer periods because they were under no pressure to have visiting relatives bring in substances.
A source said: “When Covid hit, prisons were ahead of the curve in terms of the response to the actual spread of it.
“But there was positive knock-on effects from it too where drugs decreased dramatically.
“Many prisoners were themselves reporting that they were also happier spending more time in their cells because they had less pressure put on them to help get drugs into prison.
“But with fewer drugs, there were also less assaults such as slashings and that cut the amount of hospital trips being made.”
Prison chiefs were so worried about a huge upswing in drug use when visits restarted that a video was made to warn inmates of the danger of overdosing.
The video was shown last summer in various prisons and was made in conjunction with the Red Cross.
Another source said: “The prevalence of drugs had fallen.
“But fears and concerns were expressed that if prisons had reached the levels that it did before the pandemic, there would be a risk that prisoners would run the risk of overdosing.
“Some may not have taken any for long periods of time.”
Many restrictions in various jails have since been reintroduced as the system deals with a number of Covid outbreaks.
Under these measures, lags were confined to their cells a lot more than what was the norm before the pandemic.
They were placed in different pods. This would see prisoners get out from their cells in different groups to shower and do exercise and other day-to-day activities before going back in.
Prison officers have also made two huge drug seizures in recents times.
In October, more than €130,000 worth of drugs were found stashed behind a sink which included cocaine, heroin and tablets at Mountjoy Prison.
In November 2020, they netted cocaine, pills, mobile phones and whiskey which was being smuggled into Mountjoy in the back of a delivery van.