Ceron Richards

President of the Prison Officer's Association, Ceron Richards

With more than 100 inmates testing positive for the Covid-19 virus, the Prison Officers Association (POA) is again calling on the State to speed up its efforts to release non-violent inmates from the prison system.

In an interview with the Express yesterday, POA president Ceron Richards acknowledged that several people had already been released in a bid to fight the Covid-19 spread in the prisons.

However, he said that this was done before the outbreak of the last two weeks and drastic action was now needed.

“The Attorney General needs to pick up the pace. We have a potentially catastrophic situation in the prison system right now. Inmates who are infected could have possibly infected prison officers, who could have possibly infected their families, and they can all be asymptomatic and not know it. Right now it is a serious concern that the (prison) service may be a facilitator of community spread and we need to reduce this risk,” said Richards.

“So we are calling on the Attorney General to fulfil his promise to have inmates who have short sentences for non-violent crimes, and those who have been in prison for extensive periods of time and completed their rehabilitation, to be released. Both from the Convict and Remand Yard section.

“This is important as it would give the executive of the prison service room to breathe and to implement the measures that it needs to contain this virus, inclusive of social distancing.

“As the prison stands right now, these measures cannot be facilitated. So one person infected, it has the potential to infect all. So we need the State to act now,” Richards said.

On Sunday, it was revealed that 108 prisoners had tested positive for the virus.

Commissioner of Prisons (acting) Dennis Pulchan told the Express that the Prison Service was doing all it could to curtail the spread of the virus.

Richards called for all inmates and prison officers to be tested immediately, so the Prison Service could know exactly where it stood with the spread of the virus.

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