COVID-19 and medical isolation in prison
- Kate Mitchell
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In response to COVID-19, Correctional Service Canada has enacted various policies. One of these policies allows for medical isolation to avoid prisoners who have the virus spreading it to others.
Medical isolation is required for:
- Prisoners coming into prison (following sentencing or on a suspension/revocation)
- Prisoners who have symptoms of COVID-19
- Prisoners who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Prisoners who have been in close contact with others who have either symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID-19
- Prisoners transferred from institutions with an outbreak
- Prisoners transferred from an institution in an area with high community transmission
- Prisoners transferred between regions where the receiving province has a mandatory isolation period for anyone who has traveled from out of province
Prisoners who participate in temporary absences, private family visits, etc. may also be required to isolate as a condition of participation.
Prisoners who are placed in medical isolation are to be provided with an information package outlining the reasons for isolating the prisoner, as well as information about COVID-19. They are also to be informed of their rights, including to contact legal counsel, to contact organizations like the Office of the Correctional Investigator, and to submit complaints and/or grievances. Prisoners are supposed to be given an opportunity to contact legal counsel privately within 24 hours.
In medical isolation, prisoners are to be visited each day for a wellness assessment. The Service is supposed to make “[a]ll reasonable efforts” to give prisoners time out of their cell to attend to personal hygiene, have yard time, access phones, interact with others, etc.