Residents of Donegal and Mayo were the most law-abiding in Ireland last year and least likely to be sent to prison.

Figures from the Irish Prison Service show that 7,170 people were committed to jail in 2019 with sharp variations in imprisonment rates according to the county they came from.

Residents of some areas of the country were up to six times more likely to end up in prison than in others, according to an analysis of official figures.

Independent.ie report the highest rate of imprisonment occurred among those living in Limerick with 219 people jailed for every 100,000 of population.

Next highest was Longford with a rate of 203, followed by Dublin with 185 residents imprisoned per 100,000 of its more than 1.34 million population.

The national average was just over 132 with only six counties – Limerick, Longford, Dublin, Louth, Carlow, and Laois – exceeding that.

Of other major urban areas, Cork was just below average at 123 while the rate in Galway was 94.

At the other end of the scale, the rate of imprisonment was incredibly low in County Mayo where just 37 people were sent to jail for every 100,000 living there.

There was a jump then to Co Donegal, where the rate was 51 per 100,000. Next lowest were Kerry (77), Kilkenny (77), and Roscommon (78).

Among female prisoners, the difference from top to bottom was even sharper with a woman from Limerick – with the highest rate – twelve times more likely to be jailed than a woman with an address in Leitrim.

In fact, last year – only a single female with an address in Leitrim was sent to jail.

The rates of imprisonment among men were more evenly spread with Longford, Limerick, and Dublin having the three highest rates.

Overall, of the 7,170 people committed to jail last year, nearly 88% – or 6,276 – of them were male with only 894 women imprisoned.

According to the latest figures from the Irish Prison Service, there are currently just under 3,700 people in jail with a further 233 on temporary release.

The number of inmates being given temporary release has risen during the Covid-19 pandemic as prison management try to keep bed capacity operating at around 85%.


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