Prisoners in Dublin’s central prison system are being fed through a new mobile app, which uses a technology to record video of every meal they eat and send it to an office where it is analysed and used to plan a future.
The new system is a collaboration between the Department of Justice and the Prison Service and will be rolled out to all jails across the country within the next few months.
It is being developed by Dublin City Council and its partners, and is expected to save about 100 prison staff time and reduce staff turnover by more than half.
“It’s been a challenge, especially when we are trying to address the social stigma of being on a hunger strike,” said one prisoner, who requested anonymity.
“It’s just been a constant battle for us.
I think we have all realised that, for people who have no other option.”
Inmates and staff are being monitored through a mobile app which records everything they eat, including how much and when.
It has also been designed to help them plan future meals and reduce hunger.
“The aim is to save time, cut down on food waste and ensure that the prisoners who are at the centre of hunger are provided with the best nutrition possible,” said Mr Ryan, who is overseeing the project from the Department’s Prison Service.
“That’s not easy.
You’re spending time in the prison, you’re eating, you have a meal and you go back to your unit.
But when you go out, you go into a whole new situation.”
The technology will be used to save inmates time, reduce food waste, and ensure prisoners are given the best diet possible.
Mr Ryan said the app would also help with staff turnover, which is a major issue in the central prison sector, where around 20% of prisoners are on hunger strikes.
“We are using technology to save on staff turnover,” he said.
“We’re saving staff time, we’re saving money.
The app has been developed by the Department and is being used by Dublin city council and its partner, the Prison Services Agency. “
That’s a huge benefit.”
The app has been developed by the Department and is being used by Dublin city council and its partner, the Prison Services Agency.
It will be deployed across the entire Dublin jail system within the coming months.
“Our aim is not just to reduce staff, but to save a lot of money as well,” Mr Ryan said.
The app will also help staff who are struggling to find a new job or who are trying different jobs to make ends meet.
“When they come out of jail, they are able to look for a job,” he added.
“So we are saving a lot more money.”
A Prison Service spokeswoman said staff turnover was a major problem in the centre.
“There are currently a number of staff working in our facilities, many of whom have been through very difficult periods of time and have had their confidence damaged,” she said.
“This has had a significant impact on staff morale and our ability to effectively support our people.”
Over the coming weeks we will be investing in improving the wellbeing of our staff and we are working with our partners to make sure this happens more quickly and effectively.
“The spokeswoman said the new app was not meant to replace a full range of food assistance schemes, but rather to make it easier for staff to plan their future meals.”
Some staff have used this as an opportunity to make changes to their diet, to help themselves with the stress of working in isolation and to make their meals healthier,” she added.