A justice group says it wants inmates in a federal institution in British Columbia ravaged by an outbreak of COVID-19 to know that there are people in the community fighting for their safety.
Meenakshi Mannoe, of the Vancouver Jail Justice Day Committee, said members gathered on Sunday outside of Mission Institution and made noise from their cars or from a safe physical distance.
The committee calls for the urgent care of all prisoners across Canada and the immediate release of detainees in order to ensure adequate physical measures to detain and quarantine.
Inmate sentences should not include exposure to life-threatening respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, Mannoe said.
“Whatever we think of the crimes people commit, they are not supposed to be punished any further inside,” she said.
“We want to let them know that we are making noise here and we are asking that all levels of government and the Correctional Service of Canada take action to ensure people have safe living conditions.”
incredible noise demonstration at #MissionInstitution today. saw banners that said “thank you” and “help us”. prison is not the place of a pandemic and we need the government to act to jail and #FlattenTheCurve #ContainCOVIDNotPeople pic.twitter.com/q4vXN8UO0b
– meenakshi #ContainCOVIDNotPeople (@pjdvancouver) May 3, 2020
The group also calls for wider testing of all prisoners and daily updates with details on the situation for their family members.
He is also one of more than three dozen organizations calling for an immediate investigation into the death of an inmate at the prison last month.
Mission Institution has the largest prison outbreak in Canada. The B.C. government said on Saturday that 133 inmates and staff tested positive for COVID-19.
In Canada, 290 federal inmates have been infected, 155 of whom have recovered, according to federal figures released on Saturday.
There have been 41 active cases among correctional officers out of a total of 84 who have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said on Saturday.
The Correctional Service of Canada said in a statement on Sunday that it is working to limit the spread of the virus in each of its prisons.
Prisoners who show symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19 are medically isolated and staff and inmates are given masks and information on how to use them, the report said. Improved cleaning protocols are in place, including disinfecting common areas and high contact surfaces.
“Every effort is made to provide detainees in medical isolation as much time as possible outside the cell while respecting the solid principles of prevention and infection in order to contain the spread of COVID-19,” he said. said in a statement sent by email.
The correctional service also suspended visits, temporary absences except in the event of medical necessity and all interregional and international transfers of detainees.
On April 25, the correctional service said that all detainees at Mission Medium Security Prison had been screened for the virus, although new cases continued to be identified.
Based on expert recommendations, the prison has installed new handwashing stations, improved hygiene supplies, and now has 24-hour nurses on site and daily medical coverage.
“These are unprecedented moments and we are working diligently, and often 24 hours a day, to prevent the spread of the virus. The situation around COVID-19 is both difficult and evolving rapidly and we continue to adapt our response and do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our employees and inmates, “said the correctional service in a communicated.
The Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee held its first rally outside Mission Institution following the death of an inmate on April 15 from apparent complications related to COVID-19.
Before the pandemic, the group organized an annual memorial for prisoners who died behind bars.
When the committee calls for the release of detainees, it doesn’t just mean releasing people, Mannoe said. This means allowing them to isolate themselves or quarantine themselves with community supports in place for rehabilitation.
“We must release people in communities in a safe and just manner that serves the prisoners themselves and those who have been affected by their harm,” said Mannoe.
“I’m not saying to open doors, I’m saying to mobilize people and get them out of a system that doesn’t serve them and a system that many survivors of (crime) believe would not lead necessarily to justice on their side. “
A COVID-positive prisoner at the Joliette Institute in Quebec filed a class action plan on April 21 against the treatment of the pandemic by the Correctional Service of Canada.
On April 23, the Correctional Service of Canada said it was “conducting a prison population analysis” so that it could make recommendations for release.
The Parole Board of Canada has said that it has attempted to streamline processes and expedite decisions. In some cases, parolees may be allowed to go home instead of settling in a halfway house, the commission said.
To fight possible infections in its prisons, Newfoundland and Labrador released 65 inmates as part of the province’s public health emergency declared on March 18. Until now, prisons in the province have been COVID-free.
Amy Smart, the Canadian press
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