Stephen Farry stated: “The Criminal Justice Inspectorate continues to provide an invaluable service in challenging aspects of our criminal justice system. What happens in our prisons should concern us all. Too many people are content to lock people up out of sight and out of mind but this situation is simply not sustainable. Prisoners have rights, and furthermore society has an interest in the proper rehabilitation of prisoners to minimise the risk of reoffending.
“The Northern Ireland prison estate suffers from a lack of opportunity for economies of scale. The ability to provide specialised services is limited. Maghaberry therefore has become a general purpose prison housing life sentence prisoners through to fine-defaulters. The regime and the use of resources are also too heavily weighted in favour of security at the expense of rehabilitation. This is out of line with modern practice elsewhere.. The very high incidence of mental health problems with the prison population must also be acknowledged.
“There are strong reformist elements within the Prison Service. Our prisons are often given a much lower priority than other aspects of the criminal justice system such as policing. This clearly has to change.”