Urgent action required over COVID cases in prisons

Until recently, NSW had seen very few COVID cases in prisons. But that has changed, with Croakey Health Media reporting on Monday that:

"In response to queries from Croakey, NSW justice officials last week confirmed seven (including one staff member) COVID-19 cases in prisons and juvenile justice facilities, the highest number in a justice jurisdiction since the pandemic began, according to international advocacy group Human Rights Watch."

This is of particular concern given the over-representation of Indigenous people in our prisons, coupled with their disproportionate COVID risk. NSWCCL is calling on the government to take urgent action, including:

  • Releasing people who are at heightened risk from the virus plus low-risk detainees
  • Making rapid COVID testing available within correctional facilities
  • Giving staff and incarcerated people access to vaccines
  • Making information about vaccination rates in custody public
  • Providing additional mental health resources in prisons - bans on visitors should only be used as a means of last resort
  • Ensuring that isolation and quarantine do not look like punitive measures

The government must act now.

More information