Forty-two prisons are already prepared to resume visits

in News · 23-06-2020 16:22:00 · 0 Comments

Forty-two of the 49 prisons in Portugal are already prepared to resume visits to prisoners, in "health security conditions", which implied "a huge work to adapt spaces", said the Minister of Justice on 23 June.

Francisca Van Dunem was speaking to journalists at the end of a visit to the Prison Establishment (EP) of Carregueira (Sintra), in an initiative that intended to mark the resumption of visits to EPs and educational centres and in which the director of the General Directorate for Reintegration and Prison Services (DGRSP) Rómulo Mateus was present.

In the specific case of Carregueira's EP, where 752 prisoners are found and where visits by appointment were resumed on Monday, 22 June, the minister visited the parliaments that had to be "recreated" with materials that, in addition to health security, ensure "better visual and auditory contact" between prisoners and family and friends.

Asked about the risks of resuming visits to prisoners in EP serving the Greater Lisbon and Tagus Valley area, where new outbreaks of covid-19 were identified, Francisca Van Dunem guaranteed that the issue deserves "the utmost attention" and that the DGRSP will continue to monitor and assess the situation on a permanent basis.

The minister stressed, however, that the problem that exists in the metropolitan area of ??Lisbon has to do mainly with "certain types of activities" and a "disconnect from the rules" of social distancing and hygiene, but that, instead, in the prison system these care rules are "strictly enforced".

For example, he mentioned, when visiting inmates there are markings on the floor and the parliaments obey the appropriate social distancing criteria.

Francisca Van Dunem recognised that the process of resuming visits to prisoners was initiated with the perspective that there would be an improvement in the situation regarding the pandemic and that the "human dimension" and the importance that visits have for prisoners, who "had been for a long time" without seeing family and friends.

The minister stressed that "if at any time it is concluded that there is an increase in risk due to visits to prisoners", the situation "will be reconsidered".

Francisca Van Dunem considered that the prison reintegration system "is to be congratulated", since at the moment there is not a single case of covid-19. He clarified that the 21 cases detected are of civil servants, prison guards and also prisoners who contracted the disease, but abroad and who were diagnosed on return to the EP, being quarantined.

For his part, Rómulo Mateus explained that the exceptional administrative exits of prisoners, due to the pandemic situation, continue to be renewed for different periods (30, 35, 40 and 45 days), to allow "different returns" to prison, thus guaranteeing the "quarantine conditions" in EP.

Rómulo Mateus defended that the application of the various measures in prisons as a result of the pandemic has been a "success case", considering that in terms of administrative exits the incidents do not exceed 3 percent to 4 percent.

The same official pointed out the work that has been carried out by the social reintegration teams in order to inspect the prisoners who go abroad and who must stay at home or in the so-called "reception home".

The Carregueira EP currently hosts 752 inmates, 20 of whom are preventive, temporarily transferred, within Covid-19, from the Lisbon EP. At the same time, 49 prisoners are in open regime inside.

This EP, created in 1997 and which received the first prisoners in September 2002, has, in addition to parlours rooms, nine rooms for intimate visits. Its capacity is 732 inmates.

The visits to the EP started again on 15 June (in 14 EP), having been extended daily to other establishments, according to information from the Ministry of Justice (MJ).

The MJ estimates that by the end of this month, all prisons will have restarted visits to prisoners and revealed that the installation of the parliaments - 675 visiting booths - involved an investment of around 300 thousand Euros.

Visits to young people hospitalised in educational centres also resumed on 15 June, and on Sunday, 21 June, they were already taking place in all six educational centres, in which visiting booths were also installed.


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