Women in Prison
The majority of women sentenced to imprisonment are convicted of non-violent crimes.
In Christina Quinlan’s study of women in Ireland’s largest detention facility for women, the Dóchas Centre, she found the women were imprisoned for crimes of poverty such as shoplifting. In general women are committed for unsophisticated crimes and are not involved with organised crime.
Men in Prison
The vast majority of prisoners are men under the age of 40.
The most common category of offence for which they are serving sentences is “offences against property without violence”, followed by the category of “other offences”, which includes crimes such as failure to comply with a Garda order and intoxication in a public place. Many of them are serving sentences of less than one year.
Asylum Seekers and Migrants in Prison
Our prisons also hold asylum seekers who are being detained under immigration law. They have not committed a crime but must stay in a prison while their asylum applications are being processed or while they are waiting to be deported. The number of people detained under these laws changes from year to year. In 2003 as many as 1,852 immigrants were held in prison. In 2012, 385 people were held. Most of them are held for less than one week.
The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture visited Irish prisons in 2006 and stated that prisons are not appropriate places to hold immigrants. However, the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which is currently going through the Oireachtas, will ensure the continued use of prisons for this purpose.