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Release prisoners to stop jails becoming coronavirus 'breeding grounds', say campaigners

By Richard Guttridge | South Staffordshire | Coronavirus | Published:

The Government should release some prisoners to stop jails from becoming "breeding grounds" for coronavirus, a campaign group has said.

Oakwood Prison

The Howard League for Penal Reform said some inmates should be put on home detention as the crisis continues.

Chief executive Frances Crook also said the use of technology such as Skype should be increased to allow virtual prison visits.

It comes after a case of coronavirus was confirmed at HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton, Britain's largest jail. Visits are still continuing.

Ms Crook said: "This is an extremely difficult and worrying time for everyone, and it is critically important that prisoners and their families are able to keep in touch. Different prisons are responding in different ways to encourage family contact while keeping people safe.

"Some prisons are holding more visitor sessions, but allowing fewer visitors at a time to maintain social distancing. Other prisons are giving prisoners more phone credit if they cannot meet people face to face. And we could do more, such as allowing the use of technology such as Skype to enable virtual visits.

"Meanwhile, to protect the public, the government must start taking steps to reduce the number of people behind bars to ensure that prisons do not become breeding grounds for Covid-19."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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