Pubdate: Tues, 1 June 1999
Source: Irish Times (Ireland)
Copyright: 1999 The Irish Times
Contact:  Letters to Editor, The Irish Times, 11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2,
Fax: + 353 1 671 9407
Author: Dr Ian O'Donnell, Director, Irish Penal Reform Trust


Sir, - Philip Casey (May 26th) is horrified that we continue to send beggars
to prison under the 1847 Vagrancy Act. His letter touches a nerve at a time
when smug self-congratulations are the order of the day.

Mr Casey might be even more shocked to learn that, according to the most
recent published statistics, two out of every five prison sentences are
handed down for the non-payment of fines.

At a time of unprecedented prosperity and falling crime it is difficult to
understand the Government's determination to build more penal institutions
to warehouse the poor. - Yours, etc., DR IAN O'DONNELL, Director, Irish
Penal Reform Trust, Lower Dominick Street, Dublin 1

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