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1.
Int J Prison Health ; ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)2021 10 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1447742

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: The purpose of the paper was to conduct a legal-realist assessment of the South African prison system response to COVID-19. Severely congested and ill-resourced prison systems in Africa face unprecedented challenges amplified by COVID-19. South Africa has recorded the highest COVID-19 positivity rate in Africa and, on March 15th 2020, declared a national state of disaster. The first prison system case was notified on April 6th 2020. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: A legal-realist assessment of the South African prison system response to COVID-19 in the 12 months following initial case notification focused on the minimum State obligations to comply with human rights norms, and the extent to which human, health and occupational health rights of prisoners and staff were upheld during disaster measures. FINDINGS: A legal-realist account was developed, which revealed the indeterminate nature of application of South African COVID-19 government directives, ill-resourced COVID-19 mitigation measures, alarming occupational health and prison conditions and inadequate standards of health care in prisons when evaluated against the rule of law during State declaration of disaster. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This legal-realist assessment is original by virtue of its unique evaluation of the South African prison system approach to tackling COVID-19. It acknowledged State efforts, policymaking processes and outcomes and how these operated within the prison system itself. By moving beyond the deleterious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the already precarious South African prison system, the authors argue for rights assurance for those who live and work in its prisons, improved infrastructure and greater substantive equality of all deprived of their liberty in South Africa.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Communicable Disease Control/standards , Prisons/legislation & jurisprudence , Prisons/standards , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Human Rights , Humans , Prisons/organization & administration , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology
2.
Am J Public Health ; 111(6): 1081-1085, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1186633

ABSTRACT

This article considers health and human rights implications for people deprived of liberty during the COVID-19 crisis. The health risks of incarceration for individual and community health, particularly in overcrowded and underresourced prisons and detention centers, are well known, but with the COVID-19 pandemic have become a public health emergency.Physical distancing in prisons is hardly manageable, and protective means are poor or lacking. Emergency releases have been shown to be feasible in terms of public safety but lack sustainability in reducing the number of people living in detention, and, globally, only a small proportion of them have been released. Without controlling the infection inside prisons, global efforts to tackle the spread of the disease may fail. People living in detention are not only more vulnerable to infection with COVID-19 but they are also especially vulnerable to human rights violations induced by inappropriate restrictions under the pretext of infection control. Therefore, alternatives for detention should be promoted and the number of incarcerated people radically decreased.This article calls on policymakers and all professionals involved in public health and criminal justice not to waste the opportunities provided by the crisis but to act now.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Human Rights , Infection Control , Prisoners/statistics & numerical data , Prisons/standards , Health Status , Humans , Infection Control/organization & administration , Infection Control/standards , Public Health
3.
Commun Dis Intell (2018) ; 452021 Jan 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1081915

ABSTRACT

Background: The current COVID-19 pandemic is not the first time New South Wales prisons have faced contagion. This paper examines the current responses in New South Wales prisons to the threat of COVID-19 to prisoner health, by contrasting contemporary activities with actions and policy developed during two historical epidemics: the influenza epidemic of 1860 and pandemic of 1919. Method: Epidemiological information relating to cases of disease in NSW prisons during the 1860 and 1919 influenza epidemics was obtained from the Comptroller-General's reports for the specific outbreak years and for the preceding and succeeding five-year periods. Additional archival sources such as digitised newspaper reports and articles available through the National Library of Australia were analysed for closer detail. The management of these outbreaks was compared to current strategies to mitigate against risk from the COVID-19 pandemic in the NSW prison system. Results: Interesting similarities were discovered in relation to the management of the historic influenza outbreaks in NSW prisons and in the management of the current COVID-19 pandemic. An outbreak of influenza in mid-1860 impacted seven penal institutions in Sydney and Parramatta. Infection rates at these institutions were between 3.1% and 100%; the mean rate was 41.8%. The public health measures employed at the time included allowing 'air circulation freely night and day', and treatments that were 'tonical and stimulatory'. Discussion: While the past 100 or more years have brought huge progress in scientific knowledge, public health approaches remain the mainstay of outbreak management in prisons; and, as in 1919, the opportunity for Australia to observe the rest of the world and plan for action has not been wasted. Prisons pose a potential risk for pandemic spread but they also present a unique opportunity for reducing disease risk by ironic virtue of the 'separate system' that was recognised even 100 years ago as characteristic of these institutions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Influenza, Human/history , Prisons/history , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2 , Communicable Disease Control/history , History, 19th Century , History, 20th Century , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , New South Wales/epidemiology , Prisons/organization & administration , Prisons/standards
5.
J Urban Health ; 98(1): 53-58, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-986655

ABSTRACT

People in prison are particularly vulnerable to infectious disease due to close living conditions and the lack of protective equipment. As a result, public health professionals and prison administrators seek information to guide best practices and policy recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using latent profile analysis, we sought to characterize Texas prisons on levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths among incarcerated residents, and COVID-19 cases among prison staff. This observational study was a secondary data analysis of publicly available data from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TBDJ) collected from March 1, 2020, until July 24, 2020. This project was completed in collaboration with the COVID Prison Project. We identified relevant profiles from the data: a low-outbreak profile, a high-outbreak profile, and a high-death profile. Additionally, current prison population and level of employee staffing predicted membership in the high-outbreak and high-death profiles when compared with the low-outbreak profile. Housing persons at 85% of prison capacity was associated with lower risk of COVID-19 infection and death. Implementing this 85% standard as an absolute minimum should be prioritized at prisons across the USA.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Guidelines as Topic , Pandemics/prevention & control , Prisoners/statistics & numerical data , Prisons/standards , Public Health/standards , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics/statistics & numerical data , Population Dynamics/statistics & numerical data , Prisons/statistics & numerical data , Public Health/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2 , Texas/epidemiology
7.
J Gen Intern Med ; 35(9): 2738-2742, 2020 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-649810

ABSTRACT

In the face of the continually worsening COVID-19 pandemic, jails and prisons have become the greatest vectors of community transmission and are a point of heightened crisis and fear within the global crisis. Critical public health tools to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are medical isolation and quarantine, but use of these tools is complicated in prisons and jails where decades of overuse of punitive solitary confinement is the norm. This has resulted in advocates denouncing the use of any form of isolation and attorneys litigating to end its use. It is essential to clarify the critical differences between punitive solitary confinement and the ethical use of medical isolation and quarantine during a pandemic. By doing so, then all those invested in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in prisons can work together to integrate medically sound, humane forms of medical isolation and quarantine that follow community standards of care rather than punitive forms of solitary confinement to manage COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care/methods , Patient Isolation/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Prisons , Social Isolation , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/psychology , Delivery of Health Care/standards , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Patient Isolation/psychology , Patient Isolation/standards , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/psychology , Prisons/standards , Quarantine/methods , Quarantine/psychology , Quarantine/standards , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Isolation/psychology , United States/epidemiology
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