Call for the safe release of vulnerable people in prisons and youth detention centres

The recent positive Covid-19 cases in the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre signals the growing threat of the virus to the lives of detained people in Queensland.  

People in ‘closed environments’ such as prisons, detention facilities, mental health wards and aged care facilities are at greater risk of infection due to limitations on their ability to physically distance themselves, use of common areas, reliance on others for care and pre-existing health conditions that might make them more susceptible to serious illness.

Caxton Legal Centre is also concerned about the serious impact on people in prisons of prohibitions on personal visits, the use of isolation and solitary confinement and restrictions on programs and other supports.

The over-representation of First Nations people in prison and youth detention centres as well as the high rates of chronic illness mean that First Nations people will be disproportionately impacted by an outbreak of Covid-19 in these environments.

Caxton Legal Centre advocates for the right balance to be struck in protecting all Queenslanders’ right to life.  We join with many individuals and organisations in Queensland in the call for the rights to life and health of people in prison and youth detention centres to be respected by the use of existing legal mechanisms to reduce the number of vulnerable people in prisons and youth detention centres. We call for their safe release to include the provision of safe housing and suitable post-release services, where needed.

Caxton Legal Centre is a signatory to an open letter from the legal sector to Attorneys-General, Corrections Ministers and Youth Justice Ministers.

Read the letter here.

Caxton’s Bail Support Program is a multi-disciplinary legal and social work service which supports eligible men at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, Brisbane Correctional Centre and Woodford Correctional Centre, to apply for bail and receive wrap-around casework supports.  More information about the Bail Support Program can be found here.