Pilot prison project seeks to persuade criminals to leave gangs

Bizar Male

Irish prison management is devising a programme to persuade inmates to leave criminal gangs after they are locked up.

According to the latest available figures, the Irish Prison Service (IPS) is aware of 183 gang members currently in custody. About 20 per cent (39) of these are due for release this year.

Some of these prisoners are members of major gangs such as the Kinahan cartel while others are part of smaller, regional groupings. The figures exclude dissident republicans and other subversive prisoners.

Gang membership remains a major problem in Irish prisons and inmates frequently have to be kept separate for fear of inter-gang violence. Prison staff use a colour-coding system to keep gang members separate and some inmates have to spend up to 22 hours a day in their cells due to threats.

Senior gang leaders have also been able to run aspects of their criminal networks from prison through the use of smuggled mobile phones.

The IPS said it was developing a pilot gang-desistance programme which will be called “You Turn”.

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