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Prison Officer speaks out

  • 07-05-2021 7:12am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 513 ✭✭✭ isha


    I did not see a thread on this - if there is one you can delete it.

    Reading this really shocked me just now - I did not see Primetime as I don't watch TV. Maybe there is a different angle if I had watched it.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/primetime/2021/0506/1214264-irish-prison-service-tom-mchugh-portlaoise-prison/

    Those working conditions are really deplorable. The fear must be incredible. There should be far more staff - so that no one feels that level of threat. The story about the face slashings is horrific.
    And also 23 hours in a cell is inhumane and can lead to this uber-violence.

    I know someone personally who worked with juveniles in care - and he was set upon suddenly and badly beaten, to the point of leaving the job.

    This whole area is a bit too underground, too much in the dark - like we all wash our hands of dealing with this kind of thing and leave it to anonymous people to risk themselves confronting this dark dangerous side of civil life. I could not work in that area for all the tea in China. But as a society we should campaign and ensure that people who do that work - on all our behalves, frankly - should get much better working conditions.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,331 ✭✭✭ Nermal


    isha wrote: »
    And also 23 hours in a cell is inhumane and can lead to this uber-violence.

    Sounds like things were fine under that regime, and changing it was increasing the risk to staff.

    The real question is, why not 24?


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,333 ✭✭✭✭ Hello 2D Person Below


    Nermal wrote: »
    Sounds like things were fine under that regime, and changing it was increasing the risk to staff.

    The real question is, why not 24?

    Because it does the square root of f*ck all to reduce the recidivism rate.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,907 ✭✭✭ TomSweeney


    They say you can judge a society on how they treat their prisoners - Look at Norway, holiday camps apparently.

    Having said that, does Anders Brevik deserve to be out in the next decade having had the benefits of university education in prison ?
    It's hard to take when you look at these examples - but society wise is one of the safest places to live in the world.


  • Registered Users Posts: 513 ✭✭✭ isha


    Nermal wrote: »
    Sounds like things were fine under that regime, and changing it was increasing the risk to staff.

    The real question is, why not 24?

    The prison officer involved in this was in favour of changing the regime. I would go with his opinion more than the opinion of wanting people consigned to a dungeon.
    It was pushback from others that he seems to think endangered him - bad mouthing him to prisoners etc.
    I know the people in these prisons have done terrible things and I truly have no love for them, and only have sympathy for the people they hurt or worse. But having some kind of inhumane regime does not improve things for the people guarding them either.


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators Posts: 81,470 Mod ✭✭✭✭ biko


    It's scary to think that conflict with other employees at work can lead to you getting murdered. This is not something most people will ever face.
    Good man for whistleblowing, hopefully something better will come from it.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,907 ✭✭✭ TomSweeney


    Watching the primetime report now, nasty stuff.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Computer Games Moderators Posts: 8,110 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Sierra Oscar


    Nermal wrote: »
    Sounds like things were fine under that regime, and changing it was increasing the risk to staff.

    The real question is, why not 24?

    No, what caused it was a select few lower ranking prison officers undermining their Assistant Chief Officer by maliciously spreading false information amongst prisoners resulting in a serious threat of violence being directed towards senior ranking officers.

    It is blatant indiscipline within what is meant to be a strict disciplined organisation, for obvious reasons. Seriously concerning stuff.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,476 ✭✭✭ Car99


    Nermal wrote: »
    Sounds like things were fine under that regime, and changing it was increasing the risk to staff.

    The real question is, why not 24?

    Obviously things went fine under that regime. The amount of contraband including mobiles and drugs found in mountjoy recently must point to something not right. How does the contraband get in I wonder. It's a tough job but if some of your team are playing for the other side you are in big trouble.


  • Registered Users Posts: 513 ✭✭✭ isha


    No, what caused it was a select few lower ranking prison officers undermining their Assistant Chief Officer by maliciously spreading false information amongst prisoners resulting in a serious threat of violence being directed towards senior ranking officers.

    It is blatant indiscipline within what is meant to be a strict disciplined organisation, for obvious reasons. Seriously concerning stuff.

    And that the inquiry would find in favour of the ACO and the other officers and that those people would not be informed for months of that finding - that is really strange. Who did not inform them? It is literally a matter of their safety, maybe even their lives. But also they were vindicated in their claims, out on sick leave, no wages - and no one told them they were right! (Maybe I am misinterpreting things)


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,331 ✭✭✭ Nermal


    Because it does the square root of f*ck all to reduce the recidivism rate.

    Prison's true purpose is punishment, not reducing recidivism.

    Nevertheless, locking people up is rather good at reducing recidivism. Letting them out again is not.
    TomSweeney wrote: »
    They say you can judge a society on how they treat their prisoners.

    Indeed. Who could judge our regime as anything other than weak and lacking in moral certainty?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    Nermal wrote: »
    Prison's true purpose is punishment, not reducing recidivism.
    But then what's the purpose of punishment, if not to reduce recidivism?


  • Registered Users Posts: 65,187 ✭✭✭✭ Overheal


    It is very rare for a member of the Prison Service to speak out, because it can cost them their job.

    But after 15 years working for the service, he has come to the conclusion that the service’s failure to protect him from harm on the job - and a "culture of impunity" for certain officers, whose actions can lead to others being endangered - forced him to this point.

    Where have I heard that before

    It's almost as if people need to stop hero-worshipping these roles and implement actual checks and balances.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,740 ✭✭✭ Lillyfae


    Overheal wrote: »
    Where have I heard that before

    It's almost as if people need to stop hero-worshipping these roles and implement actual checks and balances.

    Who hero worships prison guards?


  • Registered Users Posts: 65,187 ✭✭✭✭ Overheal


    Lillyfae wrote: »
    Who hero worships prison guards?

    It doesn't come up as often, naturally, but when it does the hero worship comments are often trotted out, QED its a tough but necessary civil service role.

    Prison officers are in a position of trust. It is assumed that they won't neglect the prison population for example, or exploit them to their own ends. But they're just as susceptible to gang culture, they are, boilerplate, a gang appointed and furnished by the State to incarcerate other gangs, etc. left unchecked the mentality has been demonstrated to be problematic and at times criminal, with criminal endeavors (such as the ongoing intimidation of fellow officers) being allowed to persist far too long before they are caught. Nobody likes the direct overhead of an independent oversight body but yet it seems like that's the sort of thing that needs to happen, and it's not as though there is a shortage of people for it who have had careers phased out by automation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 513 ✭✭✭ isha


    Overheal wrote: »
    Where have I heard that before

    It's almost as if people need to stop hero-worshipping these roles and implement actual checks and balances.

    I don't understand this sentence.


    Also re the purpose of imprisonment - deterrence, protection of the public, punishment and rehabilitation if possible. I am not saying that as some bleeding heart as I have almost zero sympathy for people in Portlaoise prison where the worst offenders go. But the fact remains we cannot lock people up like animals and throw away the key.

    However, this article is about a prison guard - it does not help them in any way if they are left in the dark dungeon with prisoners.
    The aim of our penal policy is to make Ireland a safer and fairer place.

    While punishment for those who commit crime is a central element of our justice system the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders is at the core of our penal system. This is the best way to achieve a reduction in re-offending.
    justice.ie


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,370 ✭✭✭✭ One eyed Jack


    Overheal wrote: »
    But they're just as susceptible to gang culture, they are, boilerplate, a gang appointed and furnished by the State to incarcerate other gangs, etc.


    Prison officers aren’t a gang culture, nor is it the role of the Irish Prison Service to “incarcerate other gangs”. It’s precisely because prison officers aren’t hero worshipped that the conditions of employment for Irish prison officers are as difficult as they are.


  • Registered Users Posts: 65,187 ✭✭✭✭ Overheal


    Prison officers aren’t a gang culture, nor is it the role of the Irish Prison Service to “incarcerate other gangs”. It’s precisely because prison officers aren’t hero worshipped that the conditions of employment for Irish prison officers are as difficult as they are.

    How would hero-worship alleviate the difficulty?


  • Registered Users Posts: 513 ✭✭✭ isha


    Overheal wrote: »
    How would hero-worship alleviate the difficulty?

    He meant it, for my reading, in the sense of highly regarded enough or compensated adequately or attended to regarding issues or that kind of thing - not everything is literal.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,433 ✭✭✭✭ jmayo


    Because it does the square root of f*ck all to reduce the recidivism rate.

    Yeah what about the real victims: the murderers, the rapists, the drug gang members.

    BTW how many convictions for violent crime, assault causing grevious bodily harm, murder, murder light (i.e. manslaughter), rape, attempted murder does it take before you reckon fook rehabilitation and lets just throw away the keys?

    A lot of the people concerned in this prison and unit are the most violent in our whole prison system not some lad that accidentaly did something wrong once and made a little mistake.


  • Registered Users Posts: 32,964 ✭✭✭✭ Omackeral


    Overheal wrote: »

    Prison officers are in a position of trust. It is assumed that they won't neglect the prison population for example, or exploit them to their own ends. But they're just as susceptible to gang culture, they are, boilerplate, a gang appointed and furnished by the State to incarcerate other gangs, etc.

    No real merit in linking to American Correctional Facilities when speaking with regard to the Irish Prison Service. They've a world of their own with prison specific gangs, privatization, rape as a weapon, execution, massive racial divide to name but a few.

    As a serving officer myself, I resent the part in bold.


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