on air now

Our mental health ‘crisis’ in prisons

Justice Lex Lasry has drawn attention to the serious shortage of psychiatric treatment available for people who need to be kept in custody.

He says that the system is failing us all, and putting the whole community in danger.

This morning Neil Mitchell spoke with Danny Sullivan, Executive Director of Clinical Services at Foreniscare, about the issue.

Mr Sullivan said examples of inadequate access to psychiatric treatment for prisoners are on the rise, and there “has been a crisis for some years.”

“Unfortunately it’s significantly common at the moment. We’ve seen a doubling in numbers in prison over the last ten years, in both men’s and women’s prisons, but that hasn’t been accompanied by commensurate funding for both mental health services and drug and alcohol”, he said.

He also voiced concern that the lack of mental health services available for prisoners posed a risk to community safety.

“Mental health services that are secure and can keep a person detained for a period of time to treat him, and drug and alcohol services to address a relapsing problem are really critical in managing community safety.”

But there has been some improvement.

Mr Sullivan said that since the Harper Review into the management of violent and sexual offenders was conducted in the wake of Masa Vukotic’s death, the government has funded a big run of initiatives which are beginning to be implemented.

Press PLAY below to hear Neil’s interview with Danny Sullivan