Session 10 | The Impact and Implications of COVID-19 on Prisons and Correctional Services
Prisons and Correctional Services are generally considered to be amplifiers in the spread of infectious diseases and are an integral part of the public health response to COVID-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies people in prisons as more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the general population because of the confined conditions in which they live, and proximity with one another – conditions that facilitate transmission of diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic compounds an already precarious situation of this vulnerable population group. In Member States of CARICOM there have been protests among prisoners and prison breaks because of prisoners’ anger over their risk of contracting the illness in prison conditions, as well as outbreaks of COVID-19, specifically in Haiti prisons. This distinguished and diverse panel will examine the impact and implications of COVID-19 on prisons; offer first-hand accounts of how COVID-19 affected and/or continues to affect incarcerated people; discuss steps prisons’ authorities are taking to minimize and/or prevent infections; analyse the challenges and opportunities the Pandemic provides for sustainable reform; propose policy solutions for keeping prisoners, visitors, correctional staff, and their families safe and healthy; and address the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 on the administration of justice, taking into consideration human rights and adherence to the “Nelson Mandela Rules” and “Bangkok Rules”.