Prison campaigners are calling for urgent Government measures to prevent prisoners from coronavirus after warning that the “bold action” on show elsewhere is nowhere to be seen in the justice system.
Yesterday, the Howard League for Penal Reform (HL) and the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) penned an open letter to the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland pleading with him to “listen to the science” and release vulnerable low-risk prisoners from behind bars.
So far, 69 pregnant women and women with babies have been released early but the Ministry of Justice have confirmed that there are “no plans to end short-term sentences”.
People serving #shortsighted sentences can face mental-ill health, problematic substance use & homelessness. This puts them at high risk of serious illness if infected & increases the chance of spreading Covid-19 in & out of prison. We must #savelives now: https://t.co/LG7M6h5P9X
— Revolving Doors (@RevDoors) April 2, 2020
The latter is a demand also made yesterday by Revolving Doors. They argued that prisoners serving less than six months make up almost half the prison population with 44,000-plus sentences of this duration handed out last year. Revolving Doors also fear that prisoners could find themselves on the streets after release, as was the case for a quarter of the people serving under six months last year. All rough sleepers are supposed to be housed in hotels and other accommodation for their protection from Covid-19.
And stopping the churn of vulnerable people heading in and out of prison should be the aim to stop the spread of the virus.