IRISH prisoners now have their own TV channel broadcast to every cell in the country – with content made in all 12 facilities in the state.
Around €30,000 was spent on studio equipment last year to enable prisons to produce custom content for the channel and broadcast live events.
Purchases included video equipment, stands, lights, microphones and computer software.
Inmates and staff at each prison are encouraged to produce their own content, and programming is updated weekly.
A number of external organizations also provided material for dissemination.
The Two Norries, a popular podcast featuring former prisoners James Leonard and Timmy Long, also has a regular slot on the programming schedule.
The TV channel was first developed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and initially focused on education and public health messaging at a time when many inmates were confined to their cells for long periods.
However, the initiative has since expanded to include content generated by inmates, staff and a range of third party organisations, including the Red Cross, Merchants Quay Ireland, the Health Service Executive and the Irish Association for Social Inclusion Opportunities.
Chaplains produced content on mindfulness and meditation, while programs were broadcast showcasing various workshops, charities and initiatives that took place in prisons.
A cultural event was broadcast on St. Patrick’s Day and a documentary made in the Mountjoy Prison Museum was also shown to inmates on the channel.
Most read in The Irish Sun
Governors also use the channel to share updates and messages with prisoners.
Inmates also participated in the development of a program designed to help new inmates adapt to their environment during the incarceration stage. Citizen Information and the Office of the Inspector of Prisons also contributed to the programming.
The Irish Prison Service said it was difficult to calculate the full cost of setting up the TV channel as existing infrastructure and in-house expertise had been used, where possible, to ensure the optimization of taxpayers’ money.
He said: “The majority of the costs associated with setting up the TV channel were absorbed by the existing infrastructure, cabling and equipment, as well as the expertise of the IPS staff.”
A total of 20 software licenses were purchased for just over €9,000, but only 15 of them were used for the TV channel.
An additional €22,000 was spent on video equipment, stands, lighting, microphones and other items to allow each institution to develop its own content and broadcast its own live events.
However, these were not purchased solely for content creation for the channel.
Inmates previously had to rent televisions in the cells using their daily allowance or “pocket money” from the prisons.
However, televisions are now provided as standard in every cell, meaning every inmate can enjoy the new channel.