Changes to isolation policies for new and transfer prisoners

Queensland Corrective Services has announced changes to the isolation policy for new reception and transfer prisoners as a part of its ongoing commitment to keeping Queensland prisons free of COVID-19.

Commissioner Peter Martin APM announced that from tomorrow, May 2, the isolation policy would be changed to be cumulative, which meant that prisoners who were transferred between centres during their isolation period would not have to restart their 14 days.

Additionally, prisoners who left their cell to attend medical appointments at the Medical Centre or a hospital, attend a video conference or other essential appointments (e.g. at-risk management) would not have to restart their isolation period.

“This relaxing of the isolation protocols reflects the changing nature of the pandemic in the community, with few new active cases being identified. As the risk reduces, our protocols will change in a responsive and proportionate way,” Commissioner Martin said.

“These changes to our policies are occurring guided by the best scientific advice from our Queensland Health colleagues, keeping in mind the environmental conditions which have seen a flattening of the curve and no new transmissions reported overnight and over a number of days this past week.

“This is in also consistent with the announced relaxations occurring in the broader Australian community announced by the Prime Minister and Premier of Queensland commencing this weekend.

“New receptions and transfers will be subject to health screening including temperature checks during their 14-day isolation periods.

“To the greatest extent possible each prisoner subject will have access to:

• medical treatment including specialist mental health services
• engagement with the offender development team to monitor and support their mental health
• 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
• access to facilitated telephone calls, and/or videoconference connection with family.

“Once the 14-day period has expired, the prisoner will be considered for placement in the general prisoner population subject to a final health check and temperature check.

“Under the revised policy, a prisoner will only be required to restart or undertake the 14-day isolation period if they are transferred into QPS custody at any point, transferred to a court or watch house facility, undertake a leave of absence.

“Transfers between facilities to be restricted Prisoner movements between centres will only occur when essential for placement.

“At the point of discharge, prisoners will be subject to temperature checks and screening prior to release to the community.

“Prisoner movements between low custody sites, between secure custody facilities and those from a secure facility to a low custody facility are not subject to isolation protocols,”

“Queensland Corrective Services has already commenced comprehensive planning for recovery from this pandemic, which includes a responsive, agile approach to adjusting our protocols in line with community restrictions.

“We know that the recovery is unlikely to be linear as community unlocks, and we have put in place plans to ensure that we are able to respond appropriately and proportionately to the changing circumstances,” Commissioner Martin said.

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