News on COVID-19 and prisons

18 Mar 2020

We are compiling a list of news articles from around the world on COVID-19 and prisons which will be updated regularly.

WEPHREN are collating guidance on managing COVID-19 in prisons and places of detention from various countries and organisations which can be found here.

The ICPA has a resource page here 

The WHO has issued guidance on Preventing COVID-19 outbreak in prisons which can be found here

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture has issued a statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which can be found here

Prison Insider is collating information on the measures being taken in different countries here

The European Prison Observatory has a webpage collating information on what is happening in European prisons here

COVID-19 Behind Bars is an independent journalism project tracking jails, prisons, detention centers, and other facilities of incarceration impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Link here

On 23 March the Regional Penitentiary Academy for Latin America organised a virtual conference of senior prison administrators in the region to discuss the issue of Covid 19 and to learn from each other about initiatives to manage the situation in prisons. Professor Andrew Coyle was invited to set the scene for the conference and a copy of his statement is available here


News 27 March

Covid-19: UK prisoners with health issues 'face death sentences'

England and Wales - Coronavirus outbreak 'causing chaos' in Merseyside prisons

Afghanistan to release nearly 10,000 prisoners to curb coronavirus spread

Justice Ministry: 200 prisoners released early in Azerbaijan

Israel to release hundreds of prisoners to curb spread of coronavirus

Greece - Plan for early release of inmates to curb virus risk

US - Photos Show Some Prison Beds Are Only Three Feet Apart

US - Coronavirus: New York prison infections surging as mayor moves to release more inmates

US - Colorado places a moratorium on new prison intakes during pandemic

US (California) Gov. Gavin Newsom halts state prison intake for 30 days

Coronavirus Fatalities on the Rise in Iran’s Prisons

Iran - Riot in Tabriz Prison: Guards Open Fire, Wound Prisoners

Ghana - COVID-19 Infections In Our Prisons: Release More Petty Offenders, The Sick, The Aged And Others

Malta - PN suggests temporary prisons to ease overcrowding and virus risk at Corradino

Coronavirus: Inmates in France hit out over prison hygiene amid COVID-19 fears

Liberia: ‘Coronavirus Outbreak in Prisons Would Be A Disaster’ – Bureau of Corrections Chief

Inmate advocates warn of COVID-19 spread in Canada’s correctional facilities

What Will Happen If Coronavirus Hits Indian Prisons?

Cambodia: overcrowded prisons are 'ticking time bomb'

Ireland - Prisoners offered 'virtual visits' from loved ones after all in-person visits suspended

Coronavirus in Africa: pandemic feared in overcrowded prisons on the continent (in French)

Belgium - Coronavirus: 323 prisoners on extended prison leave (in French)


News 26 March

Coronavirus: First UK prison Covid-19 death confirmed

HMP Manchester inmate becomes second British prisoner to die from coronavirus

England and Wales - Release inmates or face jail pandemic, say prison governors

England and Wales - The reality of life in prison during the coronavirus pandemic

England and Wales - ‘No Masks, No Showers, No Soap’: Prisoners Say Coronavirus Is ‘Spreading Unchecked’ In Women’s Jails

England and Wales - 19 inmates across UK test positive for coronavirus in 10 prisons

New Zealand - Covid 19 coronavirus: Call to lower prison population to combat spread of virus

Prison riots break out across Argentina sparked by anger over conditions and coronavirus fears

How the coronavirus is igniting riots, releases and crackdowns in world’s prisons

UN rights chief urges quick action by governments to prevent devastating impact of COVID-19 in places of detention

Coronavirus is a ticking time bomb for the Australian prison system

Calls for some prisoners to be released from Australia's jails due to coronavirus

Australia - We need to consider granting bail to unsentenced prisoners to stop the spread of coronavirus

Ireland - Prison visits and times restricted as part of Covid-19 measures

Northern Ireland – Call for prisoner releases to be considered as more than 160 officers self-isolate

COVID-19: Moroccan Prisons Adopt 2-Week Shifts for Correctional Officers

Lock 'em up or let 'em out? Coronavirus prompts wave of prisoner releases

US - UCLA Law Builds Databases on Prisons and COVID-19

Ethiopia ፡ over 4000 prisoners walk free as part of COVID 19 prevention


News 25 March

England and Wales - Coronavirus: Inmates could be freed to ease virus pressure on jails

England and Wales - Call to suspend face-to-face prison education as staff don’t even have basic handwashing facilities

Australia - Explainer: how will the emergency release of NSW prisoners due to coronavirus work?

US - Bureau of Prisons Imposes 14-Day Quarantine to Contain Coronavirus

US - 14 inmates escape from Washington jail amid COVID-19 shelter-in-place order

Russia’s Pretrial Prisons Vulnerable as COVID-19 Spreads

South Africa - Sonke Gender Justice: Reduce prison population to curb coronavirus

New Zealand - Coronavirus: More prison phone calls for inmates during lockdown

First Coronavirus Death in Madrid Prison in and 38 Correctional Officers Test Positive for Coronavirus in Spain

Bermuda - Prison sets up sanitisation stations

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Convicts of Zenica Prison sewed over 2,000 Protective Masks in only Two Days

Coronavirus hits Turkish prisons with first inmate case reported

Albania to Free 600 Prisoners as Pandemic Precaution

Nepal - Govt doing its bit to prevent COVID-19 outbreak in prisons

Bangladesh - Coronavirus gives prisoners the right to phone call

All prison visits in Scotland suspended as justice system reacts to coronoavirus lock-down

German state release some 1,000 prisoners due to coronavirus - report


News 24 March

Northern Ireland - Coronavirus: Prisoners to be released early

Confirmed coronavirus case at HMP Oakwood as virus reaches Britain's biggest prison

England and Wales - Three prisoners test positive for coronavirus in three different jails

Coronavirus: Prison visits cancelled across England and Wales

Scotland - Coronavirus: Fears as prison inmates start 'riot' over restrictions inside jail

Indonesia - Overcrowded and understaffed, prisons scramble to protect inmates from infection

Australia - Some NSW prisoners could be released early under Covid-19 emergency powers

Coronavirus: US prison inmates to make hospital gowns and masks amid critical shortage

WHO recommends tightening prison rules to prevent ‘outbreak’

New Zealand - Justice system: How prisons and courts are responding to Covid-19

India - Coronavirus: Tihar Jail to release 3,000 prisoners to ease congestion in prison

Colombia may release some prisoners after deadly riots over coronavirus

Portugal - Prisoners ‘of all kinds’ to be released as courts fail to meet judicial deadlines


News 21-23 March

Colombia says at least 23 killed, 91 injured in mass prison riots

Ban on Visitors Amid Coronavirus Triggers Riot in Sri Lanka Prison, 2 Inmates Killed

Coronavirus: Turkey to pass law to release 100,000 prisoners

US - Prisons And Jails Change Policies To Address Coronavirus Threat Behind Bars

US - Trump is considering releasing elderly, 'totally nonviolent' offenders from federal prisons amid coronavirus outbreak

US - California releases more jail inmates amid coronavirus crisis

India - Coronavirus curbs trigger prison riot in Kolkata; one shot, eight hurt

India - Coronavirus: Supreme Court orders release of prisoners to decongest jails

Northern Ireland - Prison visits suspended due to coronavirus crisis

England and Wales - Prisons ‘could see 800 deaths’ from coronavirus without protective measures

Kenya Prisons suspends visits over coronavirus fears

Anxiety grows for Egypt jail inmates at time of virus shutdowns

Israel to send some 500 prisoners to house arrest to reduce jail virus threat

Coronavirus: Syrian regime to release prisoners

Bangladesh - Overcrowded prisons not equipped to deal with Covid-19 cases

'Everyone will be contaminated': prisons face strict coronavirus controls

Poland wants to let some prisoners go home due to coronavirus


News 20 March

Two inmates at Scottish prison test positive for coronavirus

US jails begin releasing prisoners to stem Covid-19 infections

Cayman Islands - Prison visits suspended

Coronavirus: 75 HMP Berwyn officers off sick or isolating

South Africa - Prisons to undergo deep cleaning to limit the spread of coronavirus

Uganda Prisons Service suspends visits to inmates

Canada - Convicts serving intermittent sentences granted leave from prison during COVID-19

Malta - Corradino prison takes early Covid-19 steps to protect inmates

Belgium - Coronavirus: some prison sentences may be postponed

Nepal - Convicts sentenced to less than year to be freed on bail or without bail


News 19 March

Italy must release inmates to fight coronavirus in prison: Rights group

France Urged to Free Prisoners to Thwart Virus in Crowded Jails

First Dutch Prison Inmate Diagnosed With Coronavirus

Overcrowded and unsanitary, Venezuela's prisons brace for coronavirus

Australia's overcrowded prisons could struggle to control coronavirus, expert says

Three dead after riot at prison in northwestern Romania amid Covid-19 restrictions

US - Inmates in a prison with a coronavirus case say they're not allowed basic cleaning supplies and are worried about elderly inmates

New coronavirus cases in US jails heighten concerns about an unprepared system

First UK prisoner with coronavirus confirmed at HMP Manchester

Reassurances from HMIP as prison inspections suspended in England and Wales

Belize - Prison disallows visits as of Saturday in preparation for COVID-19

British Virgin Islands - Gov’t restricts visits to prison and residential establishments

COVID-19: New Preventive Measures for Moroccan Prisons

New Zealand - Coronavirus: 'Real concerns' over Covid-19's impact on prisons


News 13-18 March


Coronavirus: Emergency plan for prisons in England and Wales

England & Wales - Low-risk inmates could be released temporarily to ease pressure during coronavirus outbreak, head of prison officers union suggests

Irish prisons seek to release 200 prisoners in response to coronavirus recommendations

The 'doomsday' plan if coronavirus hits Northern Ireland's prisons

Luxembourg - Schrassig detention centre reduces visits to minimum

Turkey - Prison Visits, Court Hearings Suspended over Coronavirus

France - Coronavirus : Les Mesures Prises Dans Les Prisons



US - Federal and most state prisons are banning visits to protect inmates from coronavirus

US - How Prisons and Jails Can Respond to the Coronavirus

US - Bureau Of Prisons Announces Guidance On Coronavirus

US - LA sheriff releases hundreds of inmates to protect them from coronavirus

Canada - Jails and prisons ban visitors, allow weekend inmates to stay home as coronavirus fears grow

Trinidad - Prisons lock down over COVID-19

Guyana - Prison service to curb visits as part of COVID-19 response

'Come back Monday, OK?' Hundreds of prisoners escape in Brazil amid Covid-19 anger


Middle East

Jordan says 2 dead in prison riot after visits banned over coronavirus

Bahrain pardons hundreds of prisoners as coronavirus fears spread

Israel - Prisons locked down over coronavirus fears

Riots rock overcrowded Lebanon prisons over coronavirus fears

Coronavirus: Iran frees 85,000 prisoners to combat spread of infection



India - Supreme Court takes suo moto cognisance of overcrowded prisons in wake of coronavirus

Maldives - COVID-19: Govt commences work to clean, disinfect Maafushi Prison

Thailand - All prisons closed to visitors March 18-31

Philippines - BuCor, BJMP ramp up efforts to protect inmates vs. Covid-19



South Africa - SA prisons suspend visits for 30 days due to Covid-19 outbreak