COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic: Information for families of Prisoners in Queensland

Revisions to COVID-19 policies in effect from May 2

As we move towards the first stages of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, two revised policies will come into effect from, 2 May.

Isolation policy:

The first is an easing of the isolation policy for new reception and transfer prisoners, with isolation periods becoming cumulative, meaning that prisoners who are transferred between centres during their isolation period will not have to restart their 14 days.

Additionally, prisoners who attend medical appointments at the Medical Centre or a hospital, attend a video conference or other essential appointments (e.g. at-risk management) will 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.

Management of vulnerable prisoners:

The second change to policy is in respect to the management of vulnerable prisoners.

When a vulnerable person 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.

The change provides Community Corrections with information to allow them to better manage the needs of vulnerable prisoners.

These changes to our policies are 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 on 2 May.

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.

Q: Can I visit a prisoner?

A: As this pandemic progresses, we have moved to Stage 3 visitation restrictions, for the safety of our officers and prisoners.

All visits have ceased and all officers and essential staff entering the prison will undergo health screening.

Virtual personal visits (VPV) are now available at Queensland prisons to protect the health of prisoners, visitors and officers.

Our teams are working hard to roll out the program across Queensland to keep prisoners in contact with family and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual visits are much like normal visits. You must be an approved personal visitor, provide identification, and book a time through the correctional centre.

Thank you to the friends and family who have helped to keep our prisons safe from COVID-19 since the cancellation of physical visits.

As this is a new program, there may be a delay in booking availability due to the demand for visits. We’re working to make sure everyone can virtually visit their loved ones as soon as possible.

For more information and to book, contact your correctional centre.

User guides:

User Guide – Virtual personal visits – Windows 10

User Guide – Virtual personal visits – MacOS

User Guide – Virtual personal visits – Android

Q: When will visits with prisoners re-commence?

A: 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 personal visits are currently on hold and access to centres is prohibited except for essential workers such as for Queensland Corrective Services officers and health professionals.

Queensland Corrective Services has started looking at when face-to-face visitation may recommence in consultation with Queensland Health. Broadly, you can expect Queensland Corrective Services will align changes with the Queensland Government’s easing of restrictions within the general community and evidence that this is not resulting in an increased rate of COVID-19 infection.

Q: What does it mean if a prisoner is ‘isolated’?

A: To lower the risk of a new prisoner with COVID-19 from bringing it into the prison, all prisoners entering high security centres will be put in isolation for 14 days. Isolation periods are cumulative, meaning that prisoners who are transferred between centres during their isolation period will not have to restart their 14 days.

If a prisoner is isolated, they will not have out of cell time, unless they are required to attend medical appointments at the Medical Centre or a hospital, attend a video conference or other essential appointments (e.g. at-risk management). Queensland Health staff will do temperature and health checks on the prisoner.

Q: What services will prisoners be able to access if they are in isolation?

A: To preserve the health and wellbeing of prisoners in isolation, as much as possible, they will still be able to access: 

  • confidential medical assessment and treatment including specialist mental health services 
  • counsellors, psychologists and cultural liaison officers 
  • activities they can do while isolated (such as books, drawing and letter writing) 
  • blue letter mail and unmonitored calls with their lawyer 
  • telephone calls, and/or videoconference connection with their family 

Q: How will I know if my family member in prison is isolated?

A: If a prisoner is isolated, we will call their family and tell them. 

Q: Who can I contact if I have a question about a family member in isolation?

A: You can call the correctional centre for more information.

Q: What happens after the 14 days of isolation?

A: After the 14 days, the prisoner will be considered for placement in the general prison population once they’ve had a final health check and temperature check by Queensland Health. 

Q: Can a prisoner request to be moved to another prison?

A: QCS will only move a prisoner to another correctional centre if it is absolutely necessary. Prisoner requested moves will be restricted. 

Q: If a prisoner is moved from a remand centre to a placement centre, will they be isolated?

A: Yes, they will be isolated at the placement centre when they arrive. 

Q: If a prisoner receives regular hospital treatment, will they be isolated?

A: No, unless Queensland Health advises they need to be. 

Q: If a prisoner is moved between farms or low security centres will they be isolated?

A: No. 

Q: If a prisoner is moved from a high security centre to a farm or low security centre, will they be isolated?

A: No. 

Q: Are prisoners required to isolate before their release?

A: No, but we must protect the community, including prisoners’ family and friends from COVID-19 when they are released.

Queensland Health will check a prisoner’s temperature before their Court Ordered Parole, Board Ordered Parole, or full-time discharge date to make sure they are not sick.

Q: What measures are in place to stop officers and essential staff from bringing COVID-19 into prisons?

A: With Stage 3 visitation restrictions in place, QCS has already stopped everyone except essential officers and health staff entering prisons. We are also temperature and health checking every person who enters a Queensland prison. This also includes those working at our centres such as correctional officers and health staff. All officers and essential staff have a role to play by observing social distancing when off shift, and not coming to work if they are unwell. 

Q: How can I email a prisoner?

A: QCS has a new service to allow you to send messages to prisoners in Queensland correctional centres. Watch the video to find out how.

Q: How can I transfer money to a prisoner’s trust account?

A: QCS has a new service to allow you to send money to a prisoner’s account. Watch the video to find out how.

 

 

Last updated: 18 May 2020
Font Resize
Contrast