353. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which adequate prison accommodation is available, with particular reference to the needs of various categories of prisoners and the need for segregation of first-time offenders from recidivists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42920/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that as of 27th November 2015 there were 3,785 prisoners in custody with a bed capacity of 4,116 which allows for the safe and secure custody for all categories of prisoner. This equates to an occupancy rate of 92%.
As the Deputy will be aware there is a standard operational procedure in place to ensure that upon committal, all offenders are assessed and accommodated appropriately according to their needs and specific security status. Dedicated committal units have been established in all committal prisons for this purpose.
The Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. To segregate first time committals from the general prisoner population would greatly reduce their access to rehabilitative programmes and services.