COVID-19 Prevention and Sanitation for Inmates & Correctional Staff
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Dear Residents of Ontario:
We urgently need your help to demand that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services provide adequate personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, and support for inmates and correctional staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letters have been sent to Hon. Sylvia Jones, Hon. Christine Elliot and Suzanne Mcgurn in regarding COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impact on our vulnerable inmate population. Think 2wice is reaching out to everyone in the community who has a family member, loved one or client who is incarcerated, who works in a correctional facility, and who understands the detrimental impact that COVID-19 can have on incarcerated people.
We are requesting your signature for a follow-up letter, to give inmates a chance to protect themselves against COVID-19.
According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the International Human Rights Guidance on Health Care in Prison Settings - "prison health care should be equivalent to that available in the community."
Shared cells and overcrowding are barriers to social distancing. It is a human right for inmates to have access to adequate space, cleaning supplies, soap, and masks on the range and in their cells.
All over the world, jails and prisons have released prisoners as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while providing masks and cleaning supplies to those who remain inside. In Canada and specifically Ontario, sanitary necessities are not being provided. Jails are covering-up COVID-19 numbers and need to be transparent with the inmates and with the public.
Inmates in the Toronto South Detention Center and other jails and prisons are on lockdown for days at a time because Correctional Officers refuse to come to work due to unsafe conditions. This means that they are locked in their small cells with other inmates, often for prolonged periods of time. Many do not have soap (unless they have the financial means to purchase it), they do not have cleaning supplies, and they are not allowed to make masks out of their shirts or they face punishment. THIS NEEDS TO STOP.
Staff need to receive proper prevention gear and temperature testing upon arrival to work. If workers are infected with COVID-19, they risk infecting other staff and inmates who often have compromised immune systems. Prevention is imperative for both inmates and staff.
This petition is extremely important because politicians will not move unless we, the community and the taxpayers, demand them them to move. There is power in numbers and we WILL NOT stand by and watch our loved ones, and those we are tasked to protect, die while in custody awaiting trial.
As documented in WHO’s Preparedness, Prevention and Control of COVID-19 in Prisons and Other Places of Detention Interim Guidance, as well as in accordance with the existing Ontario Health Plan ( Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan, Ontario Health Plan for an Influenza Pandemic, Toronto Pandemic Plan):
“Voluntary public health measures include the following individual and group behaviours: Hand hygiene; Respiratory etiquette; Environmental cleaning, especially of frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, phones, etc.; Illness isolation and social distancing, which involves separation of people to minimize the likelihood of transmitting influenza, as well as the closure of organizations or programs.”
To protect inmates and staff in prisons and jails, and community members on the outside, we demand:
- Inmates need to be provided with free soap, sanitizer and cleaning supplies
- Inmates need to be educated on prevention, symptoms, and treatment of COVID-19
- Inmates need PPE including masks and gloves
- Inmates and staff who have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 need to be tested and isolated in a humane way, not in solitary confinement and in accordance with human rights standards
- All new inmates need to be quarantined for 2 weeks before being put on a regular range, regardless of symptoms, and in accordance with human rights standards
- Prison and jail staff need regular COVID-19 testing and PPE
Lockdowns and segregation should not be used as a means to deal with understaffing or COVID-19 prevention and spread
- Inmates need access to free and accessible telecommunications to speak with loved ones and care providers in the community
To see the full list of the issues inside the institutions, please click on the following link to view the full letter:
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