Some Common, Sense, being Spoken here, Addiction, is a Condition, not a Criminal Offence, for many Vulnerable people?

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‘Addiction is not a crime,’ bishop says as drug-dependent offenders fill prisons

Fred says taking more and more of a substance, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, gambling, gaming and so much more that is not really talked about and getting less of a kick (dopamine high) each time so you taking more to get the buzz. Don’t forget some people are addicted to porn.

A Catholic bishop has said that “addiction is not a crime” as he appealed to policymakers to pay attention to the medical and psychological needs of prisoners doing time for crimes linked to drug addiction.

In a statement for Prisoners Sunday, Dr Martin Hayes, the Liaison Bishop to the Irish Prison Service, criticised Irish prisons for being “devoid of humanity” and he highlighted that many prisoners struggle with loneliness.

Referring to the work of recently retired prison chaplain, Sr Imelda Wickham, the Bishop of Kilmore said she had stressed that it is not just those who are incarcerated that serve the sentence, but their families bear a cost too.

He paid tribute to prisoners’ families, prison staff and prison chaplains, whose work he said, “is vital but unheralded within prison services throughout the world”.

Speaking to, Sr Imelda Wickham said the criminal justice system needs “radical reform”.

She believes the system is a contributory factor to the high rate of recidivism in Ireland and said the attitude of locking people up and throwing away the key must be tackled.

“We hold people in custody at great financial cost to the state. Locking away the addicted in prison where minimal treatment is provided will not protect the innocent. We need to look at the question of the appropriateness of a prison setting for those struggling with addictions and mental health. It is time we looked instead at establishing treatment centres with qualified staff. We should leave prisons for those who absolutely require it.”

The Presentation nun, whose book Unheard Voices: Reflections of a Prison Chaplain was published earlier this year, said the current housing crisis was another contributory factor to a high level of recidivism as the homeless leaving prison had nowhere to go and this led them back into addiction.

At a conference Sr Wickham organised earlier this year in Co Laois on the need for a national conversation on prison reform, Fr Peter McVerry told the assembled prison service staff, Gardaí and representatives of various social care agencies that over 70pc of those sent to prison in Ireland have an addiction.

“Most receive little help while in prison and leave prisons still addicted. Drugs are readily available in most of our prisons despite the best efforts of the prison service to keep them out,” Fr McVerry said.

At the same conference Ian O’Donnell, Professor of Criminology at University College Dublin, and a past director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, said 40pc of those sent to prison in Ireland have been handed sentences of six months or less.

“We need to ask: who are we imprisoning, and why are we imprisoning them?” Sr Imelda said and noted that restorative justice was a “totally underused” model in Ireland though it has been successful in many countries.

She called for the recommendations made in the National Commission on Restorative Justice’s 2009 report to be implemented.

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