Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Successfully submitted to the Department of Social Sciences, Technological University Dublin, in partial fulfilment of the requirements leading to the award of Masters (MA) in Criminology, September 2015.


The purpose of this study is to explore ex-prisoners’ perspectives on prison drug treatment in Ireland. Prison drug treatment has increased across Europe over the last 20 years both in availability and modality. However, the delivery of drug treatment services in a prison setting is not without its challenges. The prison population is a multiply disadvantaged group, which experiences a disproportionate level of health inequality and social exclusion. Substance misuse is prevalent for a high proportion of prisoners. This research is based on seven semi-structured qualitative interviews with ex-prisoners who have had experience of prison drug treatment. The perspectives of ex-prisoners add important information to the sparse amount of literature available on prison drug treatment, especially from a user-perspective. The research found that different aspects of prison had a significant impact both on individuals and treatment. These aspects included the following: drugs in prison; prison environment; attitudes; and policies. An interesting feature of the study is the participants’ understanding of the many challenges faced by Irish Prison Service. One important finding is the need for more regular and up-to-date review of prison drug treatment. Accountability emerges as the most pressing need for prison drug treatment. While there are structures in place for complaints to be made, these structures are not fulfilling their function due to a lack of confidence in them. This leaves prisoners in a position of even greater vulnerability. In this study, ex-prisoners claim their voice amongst the voices of other actors in the field such as prison staff, medical staff, and politicians.