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.
- Read our letter to Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrections Anthony Roberts
- Australia: Protect At-Risk Communities from Covid-19 Human Rights Watch 19 Aug '21
- Urgent calls for New South Wales Government to address COVID risk in prisons Croakey 23 Aug '21
- Concerns remain over incarcerated people's wellbeing during the pandemic NSWCCL 12 Aug '21