COVID-19 and Corrections

In relation to COVID-19 and correctional education/prisons, there were two statements of note, one from the EPEA  our prisoner education colleagues in Europe:
      “The Coronavirus pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for prison schools and penitentiary institutions all over the world. In many countries      prison teachers (and other staff) are sent home to minimize the risk of spreading the disease in the vulnerable prison environment. Some of the prisoners are placed in quarantine.

        The EPEA appeals to all prison services to look into possibilities to continue the learning process. Ensuring all necessary protective measures hopefully does not exclude the provision of study materials for prisoners, nor finding ways for teachers to communicate with prison learners.

       We are convinced that education, in whatever form, is one way of maintaining normality in this difficult situation. More than ever will this be a way to keep the mind occupied other than worry about their position.”

and one from North America by the Vera Institute in New York , (prison reform/reentry) with the (CEA – correctional education).

      Guidance for preventive and responsive measures to coronavirus for jails, prisons, immigration detention and youth facilities March 19, 2020. https://www.vera.org/downloads/publications/coronavirus-guidance-jails-prisons-immigration-youth.pdf

There was also the Commonwealth’s just released Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations. The Plan was developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 and endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

Importantly for ACEA, that Plan directly refers to prison settings, and calls for:

  • urgent release of all minor offenders from custody and those not deemed a threat to others, specifically those on remand, young people, women, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. COVID-19 deaths in custody are preventable and must be avoided at all costs.
  • Introduction of diversionary programs by States /Territories to reduce overcrowding in prisons
  • Implementation of strict screening and staff illness policies in prisons
  • Consideration of peer based COVID-19 and infection control educators in prison setting

https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/management-plan-for-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-populations.pdf

COVID-19 Australia:

Coronavirus hits Aussie prisons: 66 inmates in NSW are forced into isolation after developing symptoms of the deadly disease. 2/4/2020
‘Prisons and places of detention are a serious challenge to social distancing measures and therefore represent a threat to the health of both the prison population and the wider community. State/Territory governments must adopt measures as a priority to minimise prison populations and reduce crowding in these facilities.’
http://a.msn.com/01/en-au/BB123rGv?ocid=se2

The Commonwealth released the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Populations. It was developed by ATSI Advisory Group on COVID-19 and endorsed by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
Importantly for ACEA, that ATSI Plan directly refers to prison settings, and calls for:

COVID-19 International:

Federal prison officials order system-wide lockdown in bid to limit coronavirus spread. USA (1/1/2020)
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/03/31/coronavirus-federal-prison-officials-order-system-wide-lockdown/5100375002

Release inmates or face jail pandemic, say prison governors UK 25/3/2020
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/25/release-prisoners-or-face-jail-pandemic-says-chief?CMP=share_btn_link

Reviews
One on correctional services in Queensland
Inquiry into Imprisonment and Recidivism. January 2020
https://qpc.blob.core.windows.net/wordpress/2020/01/FINAL-REPORT-Imprisonment-Volume-I-.pdf

One on vocational and post secondary education in Victoria
Skills for Victoria’s Growing Economy: Macklin Review 19/3/2020
https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/macklin-review.aspx

Review of European Prison Education Policy and Council of Europe Recommendation on Education in Prison 10/2019
https://rm.coe.int/presentation-europris-james-king/168098bc8c

Female Offenders

Working it Out
Improving employment opportunities for women with criminal convictions. 18/2/2020 www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Women/workingitout220120_final.pdf