The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has activated its COVID-19 prevention plan to decrease the likelihood of the spread of the virus within correctional facilities island-wide.
Effective Monday, March 16, all external visits to the facilities will be suspended for two weeks. During this period, the public will not be allowed to take food or care packages to correctional centres. Although Probation Aftercare Offices are still operational, walk-in visits to these locations are also suspended. At the end of the two weeks, the suspensions will be subject to further review.
Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret’d) Gary Rowe said the decision to suspend visits was made in consultation with health officials, external stakeholders and follows the Government’s decision to halt all public gatherings.
“We understand that relatives may be concerned about the well-being of their loved ones within state care. However, we wish to advise that we have been preparing for weeks for this eventuality and we are prepared to manage the environment. We will do everything within our power to safeguard the health and wellness of our inmates, wards and staff. During this time we will make provisions for relatives and friends of inmates to communicate with the staff at the respective facilities for any clarification.” said Commissioner Rowe.
He added that other methods of prevention include inmate and staff sensitisation to COVID-19 and increased supply of sanitizers, hand soaps and sanitisation of surface areas. The DCS Medical Health Staff is in continued dialogue with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to prepare for any eventuality.
Minister without Portfolio, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, said the Government is committed to preventing the spread of the virus using the latest scientific and medical advice. These include the implementation of preparation, response and recovery measures within correctional centres.
Over 4000 inmates are currently housed at correctional facilities island-wide.