This timetable describes a typical day for a prisoner.
8:00: Prisoners are unlocked. They collect breakfast and return to their cells, where they locked up to eat.
9:30: Prisoners are unlocked again to take part in education, work or other structured activity.
12:30: Prisoners collect dinner and return to their cells to eat.
14:15: Prisoners are unlocked again to attend structured activities.
16:00: Prisoners are locked in cells again.
17:15: Prisoners are unlocked for recreational activities for a maximum of two hours.
19:15: Prisoners are locked up for the night.
While there have been improvements in a number of Irish Prisons, in four prisons (Mountjoy, Cork, Limerick and Portlaoise) prisoners have to ‘slop-out’ (empty out chamber pots) every morning, where there are no in-cell toilets. Overcrowding remains an issue. 60% of prisoners now share cells due to over-crowding. Bunk beds have been placed in cells designed for one person. Sometimes mattresses are put on the floor for prisoners to sleep on. Some cells are shared by three, four or more prisoners. Sometimes prisoners must use toilet facilities in the presence of others.
A substantial number of prisoners request to be put ‘on protection’ for fear of their life. This means they spend up to 23 hours locked in their prison cell. There are usually more than 300 prisoners on 23-hour lock up at any one time. Many of these prisoners have no contact with other prisoners, even during the hour they are unlocked.
Drug-free units are not available in all prisons. This makes it difficult for prisoners to address their problems with drug addiction. It also means that prisoners who are drug-free when they enter prison find it hard not to become involved with drugs during their time there.