|Security class||Medium security|
|Population||728 (as of 2010)|
|Managed by||Irish Prison Service|
Mountjoy Prison (Irish: Príosún Mhuinseo), founded as Mountjoy Gaol, nicknamed The Joy, is a medium security prison located in Phibsboro in the centre of Dublin, Ireland. It has the largest prison population in Ireland. The current prison governor is Edward Whelan.
- 1 Physical accommodation
- 2 Prison population
- 3 Violence
- 4 History
- 5 Mountjoy Campus
- 6 People associated with Mountjoy
- 7 Relocation
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Mountjoy prison is constructed along a radial design with four main wings (A to D) each of which have three landings which are connected to a central circle. When originally built in 1850 it had 500 cells each of which was designed for single capacity. Many parts of the original building have either been renovated or destroyed.
At the time of the 2009 inspection, there were 371 cells in the main unit of the prison. These are the original cells which were built in 1850 for single occupancy. Their size varies from 3.91m x 2.06m to 3.43m x 2.06m. Additionally there are five cells which can accommodate four people each. None of the 367 cells in this block have in-cell sanitation, with the exception of the cells on C-Wing, which was refurbished in 2012 and is now used as housing for trustee and working prisoners. These cells contain metallic toilets and sinks.
The prison was built with in-cell sanitation but this was removed in 1939 at the instigation of a civil servant who deemed that 'prisoners were using too much water'. Inmates have to slop out using chamber pots.
The medical unit, otherwise referred to as the drug detoxification unit, is a three storied structure. It provides accommodation for sixty prisoners in forty-eight single person cells and three cells that can accommodate up to four people. All the cells in this unit have in-cell sanitation facilities. It is equipped with medical facilities, classrooms and kitchen facilities. The Inspector of Prisons reported in 2009 that this unit was bright and clean and did not suffer from overcrowding.
The basement, or Base, is located under the Main Prison and runs under each of the wings. There is further accommodation in parts of the Base. B Base (now closed for refurbishment) contains six single cells and eight four-man cells. All of these cells have in-cell sanitation. The unit also contains a shower room, five special cells, and an exercise yard adjoining it. The newly opened C Base is used exclusively to house committal prisoners, until they are placed onto appropriate wings in the Main Prison. C Base also has a separate Controlled Behavioural Unit known as the CBU, or the Block, used for unruly prisoners or those on punishment. This includes 23-hour lock-up and no integration with other inmates.
The separation unit has 35 cells. It also has kitchen facilities a shower block and a laundry. Following the unit's refurbishment in 1997, all cells now have in-cell sanitation.
In 2009 the Inspector of Prisons calculated that the design capacity of Mountjoy Prison was for 489 prisoners. This calculation excluded cells for assessment, time out and cladding. These types of cells are not suitable for accommodation. Despite this design capacity of the prison the official capacity of the prison was then given as 573. Changes in capacity often relate, according to the inspector, to an increase in the provision of mattresses and beds rather than the addition of new cells to the system. For July 2010, the Inspector's report estimated a 'bed capacity' of 630 and 728 for the number actually in custody.
The Inspector-General of Prisons and Places of Detention has stated that prisoners in Mountjoy are existing in most inhumane, degrading and overcrowded conditions, and that many have to sleep on the floor in filthy conditions due to overcrowding. He recommended that it be closed and demolished. In 2006 the Inspector-General described the attitude of the then Progressive Democrat Minister for Justice Michael McDowell towards reform as "frightening and fascist".
It was estimated in 2009 that 50 per cent of committals in that year, or 2,000 prisoners, were committed due to defaulting on fines.
Violence between prisoners
In August 2006 prisoners who were normally separated from the rest of the population for safety were mixed together for a night with mentally ill inmate Stephen Egan. Prisoner Gary Douche was killed by Egan who was found not guilty of murder due to a lack of responsibility. This prompted the Minister of Justice to seek a limit of 520 inmates on the capacity of the prison.
Mountjoy was designed by the British military engineering officer, Captain Joshua Jebb, Royal Engineers and opened in 1850, based on the design of London's Pentonville Prison also designed by Jebb. Originally intended as the first stop for men sentenced to transportation, they would spend a period in separate confinement before being transferred to Spike Island and transported from there to Van Diemen's Land.
A total of 46 prisoners (including one woman, Annie Walsh) were executed within the walls of the prison, prior to the abolition of capital punishment. Executions were done by hanging, after which the bodies of the dead were taken down from the gallows and buried within the prison grounds in unmarked graves. The list of prisoners executed at Mountjoy Prison includes:
- Kevin Barry
- Patrick Moran
- Frank Flood
- Thomas Whelan
- Thomas Traynor
- Patrick Doyle
- Thomas Bryan
- Bernard Ryan
- Edmond Foley
- Patrick Maher.
Annie Walsh from Limerick, who was found guilty of murdering her husband, was executed in Mountjoy prison on 5 August 1925. She remains the only woman ever executed by the Irish State.
The last execution carried out in the Republic of Ireland, that of Michael Manning, took place in Mountjoy Prison on 20 April 1954.
Some Irish leaders involved with the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War were held there. On 14 May 1921, an IRA team led by Paddy Daly and Emmet Dalton mounted an attempt to rescue Sean McEoin from the prison. They used a captured armoured car to gain access to Mountjoy, but were discovered and had to shoot their way out.
The Fenian poet, author of the popular song "Rising of the Moon", John Keegan 'Leo' Casey was imprisoned here during the 1860s; subsequently in the 20th century playwright and IRA activist Brendan Behan was also gaoled within.
The Mountjoy Campus is home to three other separate penal facilities.
People associated with Mountjoy
The schizophrenic French surrealist playwright Antonin Artaud was briefly detained in Mountjoy before his deportation from Ireland as "a destitute and undesirable alien".
A 60-hectare site has been acquired for €30 million at Thornton Hall, Fingal, where a replacement for Mountjoy is to be constructed. The new facility will accommodate 1,200 prisoners. The site will include court facilities, video-conference links, medical and therapeutic facilities, but due to government cutbacks these plans have now been sidelined.
Carey, Tim : Mountjoy – The Story of a Prison :The Collins Press : 2000 : ISBN 1-898256-89-6
- Prisons in Ireland
- Loughan House, a low security open centre in Co. Cavan also run by the Irish Prison Service.
- Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison, located in Kilmainham in Dublin, which is now a museum.
- CPT (2011). Report to the Government of Ireland on the Visit to Ireland Carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment from the 25 January to the 5 February 2010. Strasbourg. p. 18.
- Inspector of Prisons (2009). Report on an Inspection of Mountjoy Prison. p. 8.
- Inspector of Prisons (2009). Report on an Inspection of Mountjoy Prison. p. 9.
- Inspector of Prisons (2009). Report on an Inspection of Mountjoy Prison. pp. 9–10.
- Reilly, Michael (2010). The Irish Prison Population – an examination of duties and obligations owed to prisoners. Office of the Inspector of Prisons. p. 28. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "Fourth Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Prisons and Places of Detention, 2004–05". Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform. 24 August 2006.
- CPT (2011). Report to the Government of Ireland on the Visit to Ireland Carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment from the 25 January to the 5 February 2010. Strasbourg. p. 16.
- Witnesses identified in Douche inquiry, Irish Times, 23 April 2009
- The Helicopter Prison[dead link]
- Introduction p24 of The Unbearable Saki by Sandie Byrne, Oxford University Press, 2007
- National Infrastructure Summit, May 2006[dead link]
- Mountjoy Prison
- Minister announces site for new Mountjoy complex — from the official Irish Prison Service website
- Inspector-General of Prisons and Places of Detention, 3rd Annual Report – 2005
- Mountjoy Prison Visiting Committee 2004 Annual Report
- Mountjoy Prison Portraits of Irish Independence: Photograph Albums in the Thomas A. Larcom Collection