Nature of Detention

The nature of detention: Analysis of, and response to, the needs of Castlerea prisoners.


Castlerea prison is a relatively new low/medium security service (opened Dec. 1996). The absence of significant research at this location presents an opportunity to complement or challenge recent Irish research into the prison population. Research has, in general, focused on the major population centres (in particular the Greater Dublin area) to the detriment of more peripheral regions such as the Northwest. There is also a significant absence of research from a Social Care perspective.

This research intends to look at a broad range of prisoner needs and the services in place to meet these needs. It is intended to provide a critique of service delivery, to allow service users and providers to inform developments within the prison system and to evaluate service provision from the perspective of prisoners and officers.

The Research Team

Ms. Rosaleen Rushe Principal Researcher Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo. Mr. Andrew Jamie. Saris Joint Researcher Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo. Mr. Emmet Tuite Research Student Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo.

Project Details

Identify the methods used for assessment of needs, both on entry to the prison system and during detention.

Identify the needs of Castlerea prisoners as perceived by prisoners and prison officers.

Identify the range of support services available to the prison population in Castlerea prison and make recommendations regarding future service development.

Evaluate the ability of statutory support services to meet the identified needs of prisoners.

Examine the services provided by non-statutory organisations meeting the needs of prisoners within Castlerea prison e.g. Samaritans, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and the Alternatives to Violence programme.

Evaluate how these non-statutory organisations meet prisoner’s needs.

With the co-operation of the management of Castlerea Prison a sample of prisoners will be selected for interview. The co-operation of approximately 130 randomly selected prisoners will be sought from a total population of approximately 190 prisoners. Considering the total prisoner population, a representative sample of 130 is necessary to validate the research.

Prisoners will be issued with an explanatory letter outlining the research. A consent form requesting co-operation will also be issued. Prisoners will be offered the opportunity to meet the researcher to address any concerns or questions they might have. The confidential nature of the research will be emphasised. Prisoners will be reminded that interview transcripts will be destroyed after publication.

Professional staff interviewed during the research process will be informed of the confidential nature of the process. Consent forms and interview schedules will be drawn up and interviews will be conducted with the relevant professionals.

A semi-structured interview schedule will be used to gather relevant data. The interviews will be focused on gathering all relevant data on prisoner needs, service provision and areas in which there may be a shortfall.

Data will be analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods and it is envisaged that triangulation will be utilized to ensure validity and reliability of results.

The statistical analysis package SPSS and the qualitative data analysis package, N5 (QSR), will be used for analysis of data.