Home > Coronavirus: preventing harm and human rights violations in criminal justice systems. Briefing note.

Penal Reform International. (2020) Coronavirus: preventing harm and human rights violations in criminal justice systems. Briefing note. London: Penal Reform International.

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Recommendations for urgent and systemic reform to prevent and address human rights violations of people in detention and serving sentences in the community, in the context of COVID-19.

Recommendations: Post-release support for people leaving prison:
Urgent response
Þ Release plans should be made for each person released from prison. This should include, at a minimum: housing/accommodation, facilitating transport, financial support, measures to ensure personal safety especially for women and children, and links with community-based support organisations.
Þ People leaving prison should be recognised as a vulnerable group for the purposes of COVID-19 planning and be given priority access to any available services including housing support.
Þ Systems should be put in place to ensure access to finances (such as setting social welfare benefits) and accommodation before release and, while physical offices remain closed or travel to them is restricted, information (phone numbers and where possible a mobile phone with pre-loaded information) should be provided for people leaving prison to enable access to vital support services.
Þ Additional information and guidance should be provided to people leaving prison both before and following release to support health, including mental health and wellbeing, and compliance with new laws in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Systemic reform
Þ Reintegration and post-release plans should be put in place at the beginning of a sentence or period of detention. The major practical barriers for persons released from detention must be identified and solutions resourced, particularly around housing/accommodation, transport and medical needs.
Þ Emergency preparedness and response plans should be developed or enhanced to include post-release support for persons released from detention.

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