Number of women sent to jail increased by 8.6% last year

A total of 14,182 people were sent to jail in 2015, according to the Irish Prison Service Annual Report

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The number of individual women committed to prison rose from 2,685 to 2,918 in 2015 - an increase of 8.6%.

Overall the number of people given a prison sentence in 2015 rose by almost 9%, compared with 2014.

Of the total of 14,182 people sent to prison in 2015, 2,918 were women.

Launching the Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2015 and Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan 2016 – 2018, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “I note the work being done by the Probation Service to reverse the downward trend in the use of Community Service Orders.

"The use of prison as a sanction of last resort is a core principal of penal reform and I know the Probation Service has the capacity to take on the supervision and rehabilitation of more offenders," she explained.

Eoin Carroll, of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, wants the Department of Justice to address the significant rise of female prisoners.

"We're questioning as to how successful the recent strategy responding to the needs of women in prison [has been], and we're calling upon the minister to address this issue," he argued.

Mr Carroll also said: "There has been a good record of achievement in a number of key areas with significant improvements in conditions in parts of Mountjoy Prison, the national roll-out of the Community Return Programme, which enables the earlier release of some prisoners under supervision.

"Such developments have significant positive effects for people in prison, for prison staff and for society as a whole," he added.

Correction: This article originally incorrectly stated that the number of women sent to jail increased by 27% last year. Those figures have now been amended.