Irish taxpayers paid over half a million euros last year to provide prison inmates with televisions, as well as services such as Netflix and Sky Sports.
This represents a significant increase from the year previous, when just under €320,000 was spent, with the Irish Prison Service (IPS) attributing the rise to the purchase of hundreds of new televisions for extra cells.
Last year new refurbished cells were completed in Limerick Prison, which required the purchase of additional televisions.
In addition, the IPS said that the average cost of TVs had increased from €133.36 to €156.90, not including VAT, which also contributed to the increased cost.
The total sum rose to €500,027.27. The data shows that €411,809 of that was spent on 2,174 TVs – an average of €189.42 per television set.
The biggest recipient of these TVs was Mountjoy prison in Dublin, which received 660 new sets.
An additional €63,061 was spent on services such as Netflix and premium channels like Sky Sports last year. A further €25,157 was spent on larger TVs for communal areas of the prison, like recreation and visiting rooms, as well as staff areas.
These expenses represent a dramatic increase from 2021, the year prior, when under €245,000 was spent on 1,493 TVs by the IPS, only 400 of which went to Mountjoy.
In a statement, the prison service said that when a TV is damaged on purpose by a prisoner, they are often made to pay some of the cost of repairing it.
“When there is deliberate damage to a TV by a prisoner, the prisoner may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the prison rules and liable to contribute towards the cost of repairs,” they said.
On top of TV services, prisoners in Ireland received €3.1 million in “pocket money” from the state in 2021.
Prisoners are paid anywhere from €0.95 to €2.20 per day depending on how good or bad their behaviour is, and can also receive €3.50 a week for doing chores like kitchen work and laundry.
Most prisoners earn around €10 a week, and this money can then be spent in the prison tuck shop.