A former Portlaoise Prison governor says preventative measures are clearly not working.
An increasing number of children are being sent to the state's detention centre for very serious offences, including causing death.
They're being detained for longer sentences, according to a new annual report for 2020.
Oberstown in Lusk, Co Dublin, is a detention centre for young-offenders.
122 children were detained there during 2020 - 119 boys and three girls, all aged between 13 and 17.
About half of them had a mental health problem, and one in four had a learning disability.
40 per cent had been in care, or had significant involvement with Tusla, before they were detained.
A similar number had suffered the loss of at least one parent, and 70 per cent had substance misuse problems.
The report says there's been a rise in the number of young people who are detained on longer sentences for very serious offences in recent years.
Former governor of Portlaoise and Mountjoy Prisons, John Lonergan, says this is concerning:
Six in 10 young-offenders didn't engage in full-time education before they were detained.
Mr. Lonergan says the drugs situation is worsening: