The prison service warned of the return of the “revolving door” for prisoners if new jail accommodation for criminals was not urgently provided.
In a submission to the Department of Justice, the Irish Prison Service (IPS) said the number of people in jail had increased by almost a quarter in the space of five years, and was only going to rise further.
And with more than 100 prisoners already sleeping on mattresses daily, they warned of “increased tension and incidences of violence” between inmates as well as higher potential for “violent assaults on staff”.
They said the so-called revolving door for prisoners could return with temporary release being offered in an “unstructured manner” early in sentences.
This could have a knock-on effect on public safety and undermine the administration of justice if criminals were let go too early.
The IPS also warned of the potential “widespread outbreak” of infectious diseases like Covid-19 and tuberculosis due to overcrowding in Irish jails.
They also predicted increased levels of illegal contraband entering the system, including narcotics, mobile phones, and weapons.
They said this could lead to “drug related illness” and “possible death in custody” as a result of overdose due to difficulties in tackling smuggling.