Media Release 31 August 2021
Measures need to be taken to stop Covid Deaths in Custody
While NSW has locked down its prison system due to high rates of Covid infection, Justice Action warns that this could be the tip of the iceberg.
Justice Action Coordinator, Mr Brett Collins warns that “Conditions in prisons are an ideal breeding ground for infection at the best of times. In a pandemic situation there is a need to act, and act fast. Continuing the current complacency that amounts to criminal negligence is a recipe for disaster.”
“Prisoners are a vulnerable group and are made up of some extremely vulnerable people. 26% of prisoners are indigenous for example.”
Mr Collins pointed out that “Legislation has been passed in various jurisdictions to deal with the pandemic and the Government’s own expert advice [ATAGI advice to Government ] outlines the measures that must be taken immediately. Governments have been negligent in not following their own expert advice.”
Mr Collins said that “families of prisoners are contacting Justice Action with horror stories of their loved ones not being able to receive appropriate care.
“Unless attitudes change, avoidable deaths will become inevitable”
“Justice Action has been urging State and Territory Commissioners for more than a year to take positive action.” Mr Collins said.
“Positive action includes initiative such as:
using release powers to enable social distancing expedite vaccination and testing for prisoners
expediting vaccination and testing for prisoners and
mandating vaccination and testing for staff
In addition, computer tablets should be made available for every prisoner, so isolation from visitors, rehabilitation programs and education isn’t unnecessarily and unfairly imposed on them.” Mr Collins concluded.
Media Enquiries: Brett Collins, Justice Action 0438 705 003