Loved ones of inmates worry COVID-19 will 'spread like wildfire' in the prison system
The spouses of two inmates at a Toronto-area prison are hoping the federal government will allow for the early release of non-violent offenders to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the prison system.
“He made a mistake and he’s taken his punishment in stride,” Currant, whose husband is scheduled for parole at the end of April, told CTV News. “(He’s) completely regretful for everything and now I’m worried he might not be able to get out on time or even come home so he might be able to help our family.”
Newsletter sign-up: Get The COVID-19 Brief sent to your inboxThe women believe the nature of the prison system -- tight living arrangements and surrounded with other people -- could be a recipe for disaster when it comes to a highly contagious virus such as COVID-19.
“There is no isolation at the prison,” Currant said. “They all live in close quarters with each other, so if by chance COVID-19 gets in there, it’s going to spread live wildfire.”Infusino-Tomei, whose husband is serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to drug-related offences, compared the situation to that of cruise ships, which have already shown to be problematic.
"We know mass quarantines don't work because of those people left on cruise ships for weeks at a time,"she told The Canadian Press last week."If something like that happens in prison, it's going to be far more dangerous, far more catastrophic on a far larger scale."
Infusino-Tomei and Currant aren’t the only loved ones calling for the early release of non-violent offenders. A mother in Saskatchewan, whose son is behind bars at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary,told CTV Saskatoon that she’s “scared to death”for her son and his risk of exposure to the virus, given two corrections officers in Saskatoon tested positive for the virus last week.
On Monday, the Correctional Service of Canada said two inmates and nine employees at the Port-Cartier Institution, a maximum-security facility in Quebec, also tested positive for COVID-19.Currant said her husband told her the Beaver Creek Institution is on lockdown to keep a potential outbreak under control, meaning inmates are only allowed two hours per day outside his cell.
“A lot of people, unfortunately, have made a bad mistake and they get incarcerated for it, and they pay their punishment, but shouldn’t have to sit in there where a virus can spread and literally contaminate all of them,” Currant said.Infusino-Tomei said her husband is working with a parole lawyer to argue his situation constitutes “excessive hardship” under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which could allow for an early release.
"My argument is that the pandemic is a public health risk for prisoners and the risk of getting the virus is a hardship that was not previously foreseen," Fergus J. (Chip) O'Connor, the parole lawyer, The Canadian Press.MOVEMENT COULD BE ON THE WAY
It looks like Currant and Infusino-Tomei could soon have their wish as on Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair asked the federal prison service and the Parole Board to examine the possibility of early releases for some offenders.“Our government is committed to protecting the safety of correctional staff, inmates, and the public,” Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Blair, wrote in a statement.
“Minister Blair has asked both the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada and the Chair of the Parole Board of Canada to determine whether there are measures that could be taken to facilitate early release for certain offenders.”In response, a spokesperson for the CSC told The Canadian Press that the department is working with the Parole Board to examine “all options with respect to the safe release of offenders into the community.”
The decision ultimately rests in the hands of the Parole Board, however. In a statement, the board said it is working with the other interested parties to "to ensure a broad number of options are considered to safely release offenders into the community in response to the COVID-19 situation."
SUPPORT FROM LEGAL ORGANIZATIONS The idea of releasing non-violent offenders from prison early also has the support from several legal organizations across Canada.The Canadian Bar Association recently sent a letter to Blair advising to look at other options for some offenders in prison and immigration-detention facilities, including early release.
"Coupled with the close quarters in these facilities, limited access to hygiene and preventive products, and inability to act on social-distancing recommendations from public health authorities, we believe the current situation may soon become dire," the association wrote in the letter.
The union for Legal Aid Lawyers in Saskatchewan, the Alberta Prison Justice Society, the Ligue des Droits et Libertes in Quebec, the Canadian Prison Law Association and the Criminal Lawyers’ Association have also expressed a desire for similar reforms.
With files from The Canadian Press, CTV Saskatoon and CP24 Read more: CTV News »
if only there was a way you could not go to jail Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the time. Oh well. Good luck. Of course it will. I don't understand how they can get sick,there not traveling anywhere, there already in lock down,the only way is if visitors bring in the virus. So no more visitors and they should be fine,letting them out would be a big mistake, crime is not what we need now,
has nobody seen the? Guy given bail due to 'covid conerns'!!!! A segment of the population that already can't follow the rules It’s spreading through nursing homes. Let’s help those people before we worry about helping inmates! I worry for my LOVED ONES if they get released...But I'm just an ordinary tax payer...
Don’t go to prison. 1Should build square cabin hospital to seperate confirmed and pending patientS from regular hospital.. 2.dont have to rely on testing kits if you dont habe enough. A lot of experienced doctor can confirm the case by ct scan and that where China successful did. A nursing home and a prison are essentially the same thing, the main difference being that the people in prison made poor life choices that landed them there. The virus is spreading just as rapidly in nursing homes. The world is already living in fear, this will just add to it.
TerrorTrudeau It’s just chest cold that 99.99% of normal healthy people will recover from, so let’s not unleash them on the unsuspecting public mmmkay? Best way to end up in jail during a pandemic, be scum and break laws! Best way to stop the spread of a virus in jail during a pandemic, lock the doors and check back in 6 months.
Good...less criminals. The loved ones of people in nursing/seniors homes are worried too. If seniors have to live in lock-down in their little rooms, inmates can live in lock-down in their little rooms as well. Should ask the loved ones of the victims how they feel about their loss Don't worry they will not get infected unless somebody from outside who is positive will visit them. As long they are lockdown they are safe....maybe more safe than we are...
What about the corrections officers and parole officers and all the other staff that are then bringing it home to their families. They probably shudda made better choices. Selfish greedy blood sucking bastards, but still, not even close to being as toxic to Canada as the liberal party. Canada is 4-6 weeks away from food riots and this shitty media are going on moral revelations.
Those unfortunate criminals that murdered people, ruined the lives of families that will never recover. They're not in jail for being a good neighbor or family member. They've broken the law for violent crimes and horrible acts of evil. I apologize but I have no sympathy. Action/Reaction. Choice/Consequence. And trust me, prisons are being disinfected almost as much as hospital’s
Cant do the time? Wanna yell and whine? Quit your shit, we're over it cuz its Coronatime Cry me a river. Maybe thats the plan Our seniors have been living with lock-downs in nursing and retirement homes for weeks now. If it is humane enough for them, it is humane enough for prisoners. Prisons can go into lock-down to prevent spread.
Guess they shouldn’t be in there then. Maybe they can be the test subjects to find a cure for the rest of us Keep them locked up sorry Who cares, let em die. Too bad , lockdown
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