Case Studies

“ICPO was very important to me…I will be indebted to them for the rest of my life”

Many Irish prisoners overseas find the distance from home very hard to cope with. For James, an ICPO client who recently returned from the United States, maintaining contact with his family was crucial: “The thing that kept me going while I was in prison was my family and the people that knew me well. That support was very important.”

James has always maintained his innocence and says this kept him going. He had been working in the United States for several years before he was arrested: “I knew how things ran in that country, but I didn’t know anything about how the prison system ran. It’s easy to end up in prison in the US and very hard to get out”. During his sentence he tried to stay away from gangs and other things going on within the prison. “I kept busy and had a set routine. I kept myself to myself … It was hard- I was living in a cube, with the next person two inches away from me.” (more…)

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Imprisoned in Spain

Language barriers and dealing with an unfamiliar legal system are issues that affect many Irish prisoners in Europe. An ICPO client describes daily life in a Spanish prison.

Most of the Spanish prison buildings are relatively modern, nearly all have a shower in the cell. The cells are mostly shared by two inmates, though legally everyone is entitled to their own cell. Prisoners don’t have to wear uniforms and if you need clothes, the prison will supply you ‘rags’. The other prisoners will help out with clothes. On every wing there’s a shop selling coffee, sweets and toiletries and depending on the prison you can buy from the local supermarket once a month or every week. In general the prison food is ‘bad’ – that’s putting it nicely and tap water is dangerous, bottled water is a must.

The prison day starts at 7.45 when the officer does a cell count, you must nod or wave normally, (certain wings you must stand), then the doors to the cells open at 8.30ish, depending on the funcionarios (prison officer), when after mopping your cell you make your way down to the comidor (dinnerhall). You’ll be served a warm liquid that resembles very sweet coffee and a bread roll with jam (sometimes). Most prison shops will be open in the morning so if you’ve got money on your card, you can buy a proper coffee etc. (more…)

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Life in a South American Prison

In some South and Central American countries prison conditions can be extremely poor and prisoners may have limited access to food, water, medical and dental treatment. Here an ICPO client describes his experience in a Venezuelan prison.

Los Teques is reputed to be one of the worst prisons to enter into in the world. Well maybe it has the highest death rate of any prison but it’s far from the worst in my opinion. OK, so if you’re stupid enough to wander around on your own outside the safety of your wing and get held up at knife or gun point and all they rob is your money and not your life then you are a very lucky person. But there are lads that do it after being warned time and time again. (more…)

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