Additional FAQs

 

Custodial Operations

 

What restrictions apply to personal visits with prisoners?

Revised 14 January 2022

Queensland Corrective Services’ priority is to keep COVID-19 out of our prisons and to keep staff and all people in our care safe. This is why a staged approach as described in the COVID-19 Response Planning Tool is taken to restrictions, including with respect to personal visits, according to the level of risk.

Current restrictions – Stage 3

Due to the increase of locally acquired cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, on the advice from the Chief Health Officer, all correctional centres across Queensland moved to Stage 3 restrictions from 14 January 2022.

When correctional centres are in Stage 3 restrictions face to face personal visits are suspended, with video-conferencing and other alternative measures encouraged so that prisoners can keep in touch with loved ones.

Virtual personal visits (VPV) remain available for family and friends of prisoners to ensure people in our care can stay in touch with their loved ones and to help protect the health of all. Delays may occur in booking availability for VPV when there is high demand, but QCS works to ensure everyone can virtually visit their loved ones as soon as possible. For more information and to book, contact your correctional centre.

Queensland Corrective Services has also recently added a new service to allow family and friends to email prisoners located in Queensland correctional centres.

Information for when visits recommence

During Stage 1 and Stage 2 restrictions, face to face personal visits can proceed according to current health advice and the COVID-SAFE plans in place.

Even when restrictions are eased and visits can occur, some changes to contact and non-contact personal visits may be required according to health advice and COVID-SAFE plans.

When visits recommence, please contact the relevant correctional centre for details of current visitor numbers permitted under COVID-Safe plans, and to book contact, non-contact and virtual visits. Visitors need to provide proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or evidence of a medical contraindication, each time they visit a Queensland prison. For more information please see information for families or the Service Providers FAQs.

In accordance with current Queensland Health advice masks are to be worn at all centres.

Everyone entering a correctional centre will continue to undergo health screening and temperature checks. Visitors who are showing signs of illness, or who have visited or travelled through declared hotspots in the past 14 days will not be admitted to our centres.

 

What health checks are there for QCS and Queensland Health staff, professional, official and other business visitors prior to entering a correctional centre?

Revised December 2021

QCS has in place health and temperature checks for all staff and other people before they enter facilities across the state. Any person with a temperature over 38 degrees or with cold or flu-like systems is not be permitted access to the centre and is referred to seek medical advice.

As of 17 December 2021, personal visitors aged 16 and above will need to provide proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or evidence of a medical contraindication, each time they visit a Queensland prison.

These measures will remain in place until recovery from COVID-19 is considered complete.

 

What precautions are in place at point of entry for prisoners?

Revised December 2021

QCS continues to limit the risk of a prisoner with COVID-19 being received into the secure custody environment, by ensuring health and temperature checks are conducted at reception.

Stage 1

During Stage 1 restrictions, new admissions will be subject to:

  • a temperature check and health checks as determined by Queensland Health personnel
  • checking of COVID-19 vaccination status
  • offering of COVID-19 vaccination if applicable.

New reception prisoners will be tested and isolated if suspected of having COVID-19. Prisoners may be isolated for 14 days as required according to health advice.

Stage 2 onwards

From Stage 2 of restrictions, further steps are put in place to help reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 entering Queensland prisons including isolating all new receptions for a 14-day period.

Once any 14-day isolation period is completed, the prisoner will be relocated to the general prisoner population following a final temperature and health check by Queensland Health staff.

Prisoners who are confirmed to have COVID-19 will be isolated and treated according to Queensland Health advice. Subject to the capacity of the health system, confirmed cases will be managed in a health setting or a designated COVID-19 unit within the centre to reduce the risk of transmission

The process is uniform across Queensland for consistency with no discretionary authority applied.

 

How will an isolated prisoner be managed?

Revised December 2021

Prisoners in isolation are to be in single cell accommodation insofar as practicable for the protection of the broader prisoner and staff population. Isolated prisoners are not required to restart a 14-day isolation period if they are required to leave their cell during the isolation period.

To preserve the health and wellbeing of each prisoner subject to isolation, to the greatest extent possible each prisoner subject to isolation will have:

  • access to confidential medical assessment and treatment including COVID-19 Vaccination Program and specialist mental health services;
  • access to engagement with the offender development team to monitor and support their mental health;
  • engagement with unit and activities officers to provide activities that may be undertaken whilst isolated (such as books, drawing and letter writing);
  • access to blue letter mail processes and unmonitored calls with legal representatives; and
  • access to facilitated telephone calls, and/or videoconference connection with family.

 

What other restrictions on prisoner movements are in place?

Revised December 2021

To minimise the risks associated with COVID-19, steps have been put in place to minimise the movement of prisoners between centres. For example, prisoner movements between centres will only occur when essential for placement, and prisoner requested moves are restricted.

Essential movements and transfers of prisoners should occur only between correctional centres within the same COVID-19 response stages, wherever practicable.

 

How are vulnerable prisoners managed?

Revised December 2021

A vulnerable prisoner is a prisoner who falls within the category of people identified in the statement published by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on 30 March 2020 as being at, or likely to be at, a higher risk or serious illness if infected with COVID-19. The people identified by the AHPPC as vulnerable are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions
  • people 70 years and older
  • people with compromised immune systems.

Chronic medical conditions, and conditions which give rise to immunosuppression, are listed and updated by the Department of Health.

On 8 April 2020, QCS further strengthened its commitment to COVID-19 precautionary measures by ensuring QCS works even more collaboratively with Queensland Health to identify and respond to vulnerable prisoners at each correctional centre.

All those confirmed by Queensland Health as vulnerable prisoners are to be medically segregated as required to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. Such prisoners may be accommodated in dedicated single cell accommodation and/or unit to reduce the level of close contact with the broader prisoner population. These prisoners will not be isolated in their cells.

QCS will ensure access to health and mental health services, activities, and contact with family, is appropriately maintained. QCS considers the risks and needs of each prisoner carefully, including in relation to their cultural background or any disability. These considerations remain standard QCS practice in responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

 

How is QCS managing the transfer of vulnerable prisoners?

Revised December 2021

If a vulnerable prisoner is required to transfer to another secure corrective services facility, the receiving centre will be notified of the prisoner’s vulnerable status as part of the prisoner transfer authority.

If the prisoner is released to parole or a community-based order, Community Corrections will be notified of their vulnerable status to inform decision making on supervision and reporting requirements.

 

Will there be legislation changes to release prisoners?

Revised December 2021

QCS is committed to ensuring the health and safety of staff, prisoners and offenders and is taking necessary precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Queensland’s corrective services facilities. We also must protect the safety of the community. With these priorities, consideration is not currently being given to introducing legislation to alter or extend existing prisoner release mechanisms in Queensland, with several options already available for prisoners under the Corrective Services Act 2006 (the Act).

 

Queensland Remote Communities

 

What is QCS doing to ensure the community is safe from COVID-19?

Revised December 2021

QCS is committed to ensuring community safety, and as such any prisoner with symptoms approaching a known discharge will receive a health and temperature check conducted by Queensland Health and will be assisted in accordance with health advice. There is also an offer of a COVID-19 test made to all prisoners who plan to return to vulnerable communities, as well as the opportunity to be vaccinated.

To further protect vulnerable communities, all public service employees who are regularly required to access remote and discrete communities must be vaccinated.

 

Access to Legal Representation

 

I need to get my client to sign a s651 application for their sentence to proceed. Can QCS assist with this?

Revised December 2021

When restrictions are in place due to COVID-19, Queensland Corrective Services will assist legal representatives with the completion of section 651 applications. If you have an application that needs to be signed by a prisoner, please send it to the sentence management email address at the correctional centre where the prisoner is accommodated. Sentence Management staff will coordinate the completion of these applications (including the completion of the Oaths Act declaration) and return by email to legal representatives.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact via email at covid19specops@corrections.qld.gov.au

 

How is QCS supporting prisoners and their legal representatives on bail applications, and how can legal representatives and engaged experts request a tele or video conference with a prisoner?

Revised December 2021

Please refer to the correctional centre conference booking methods document for instructions on how to make a video or teleconference booking with your client.

 

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