Although visits to the prison compounds have been suspended to protect the inmates and workers there due to a rise in numbers of Covid-19 cases in the general population, relatives/friends are still allowed to deliver accepted items/funds to inmates.
Superintendent of Prisons Timothy Hazelwood, said on Monday September 20, that Her Majesty’s Prisons(HMP), and the Belle Isle Correctional Facility compounds had zero known cases of Covid-19 among the prison population. At the time there were 391 prisoners at the two facilities.
“We are zero, and I want to maintain the zero,” he replied to questions asked.
“We are trying to organise a random test because you never know. You can say that you do not have the virus anywhere and the only reason you can say so…if that there is nobody tested positive. But the virus could still be around and nobody knows,” Hazelwood commented.
The prison has been taking measures deemed necessary in light of the circumstances, implementing sanitisation, masking, and temperature checks. However, social distancing is a challenge considering inmates are housed in cells together.
Last Friday, September 17, a press release was issued by HMP to announce a suspension of all visits to both compounds.
“In respect to the rising of the Corona virus, I have to put certain measures in place to protect the inmates and all the officers and workers who are employed at Her Majesty’s Prisons,” Hazelwood informed. The prison authorities are also putting a halt to prisoners going out for fatigue until “the situation can look better than it is now.”
Rehabilitation programmes in place there were also affected following the onset of the pandemic, and were slated to resume later in September.
“The way that things are going it seems like it might not be, but we do have the program still, certain parts of the program are still functioning without persons coming in,” the SOP said. Carpentry, tailoring, cooking, and farming are some of the skills training that have not been suspended.
“I do understand what some relatives and friends of the inmates feel, I do understand how they feel. But I just want them to know that they can still deliver their fruits and things that are accepted in prisons,” the Superintendent noted. Further, persons may still enter to go to the location and deposit funds for prisoners.
Hazelwood said inmates would still be able to make calls, and that they are trying to organise a system where inmates would be able to see their family virtually. However, has not yet been finalised, and the resumption of trials at the High Court will likely hinder it.
As at September 21, the number of active cases of Covid-19 was 602, with 17 deaths.