HC Deb 17 April 1888 vol 324 cc1482-3
MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the Irish Prison Rules provide (Rule 24) that— During the whole of his sentence, when it does not exceed one month, and during one month of his sentence when it exceeds one month, a convicted criminal prisoner shall have to lie on a plank bed; but that by industry and good conduct he may— Earn a gradual remission of this requirement after the expiration of one month; whether it is the invariable practice in Ireland to require that the first month of any term of imprisonment shall be spent on the plank bed; whether this practice deprives the prisoner of the possibility of earning any remission of the plank bed punishment which the Rule contemplates; whether, in case of imprisonment for longer terms than one month, the plank bed requirement will be postponed till after the first month to give the prisoner an opportunity of earning the remission provided by the Rule; whether a man named Corny, lately discharged from Kilmainham Prison, spent three months on the plank bed during a single imprisonment; whether it is a common practice in Irish prisons to punish with longer terms of plank bed than one month; and, whether there is any Law or Rule for such punishments; and, if not, will they be put a stop to? He called the attention of the Chief Secretary specially to paragraph 5 of the Question.


The reply to the first two paragraphs is in the affirmative. The practice does deprive the prisoner from earning any re- mission during the first month; no such remission, however, is contemplated in the Rule. The Prisons Board have no power to adopt the course suggested in the 4th paragraph. A prisoner named Corny spent some 74 nights on the plank bed; but this was due to his misconduct. In Ireland the plank bed is only continued beyond a month in cases of misconduct; whereas in England, under a similar Rule, the plank bed, as a general practice, is continued beyond a month until remission is earned by industry and good conduct.


Have the Irish Prisons Board power to order the plank bed beyond the first month? Is not their power restricted to putting a prisoner on bread and water?


No; I understand they have power to order the plank bed.