Prisoners at risk in pandemic

The number of people in detention needs to be reduced significantly because it is not possible in these settings to follow government advice on COVID-19, say Quakers in Britain. Unprecedented government action is needed to save lives.

Now a wide coalition, including Quakers, are calling on government to temporarily end short-term sentences. The coalition's aim is to reduce the numbers of people held in detention settings, including prisons.

Short-term sentences for offences mean many people get caught in a revolving door of being in and out and back in prison. People in the revolving door are at great risk of infection and death in the COVID-19 pandemic. Limiting the rapid churn of people vulnerable to COVID-19 would help keep prison staff and prisoners safe.

Quakers in Britain are calling for the government to:

  • Take further measures to reduce the risks posed by overcrowding by temporarily ending short-term sentences. Quakers support Revolving Doors' campaign on this.
  • Give priority within the early release measures to people in prison who are elderly and or have underlying health conditions.
  • Provide practical support to ensure that the release of people in prison is not delayed by factors such as lack of suitable accommodation or a scarcity of tags.
  • Make sure prison chaplains and prison visitors, including those who are Quaker, can provide for pastoral needs in a safe and enhanced way.

Transforming the justice system