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The safety and security of our staff, inmates, visitors and the community remain our top priority.

Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) continue to monitor COVID-19 risks in the community and adjust operations accordingly.

Current status

Last updated 4 November 2021

There are currently two correctional centres managing positive COVID-19 cases:

  • The Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC)
  • Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre

All positive inmates are housed in isolation areas away from the main population. Accommodating COVID positive inmates in centralised locations allows CSNSW and our partners Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (JH&FMHN) to concentrate the relevant resources and provide optimal care for inmate patients.

New receptions and preventative measures in custodial environments

Quarantine

All new inmates entering our system are quarantined for a 14-day period. Previously, inmates were cohorted and could interact with a small group of other inmates also in quarantine. Due to the transmissibility of the Delta strain, inmates are now housed by themselves or with one other person (depending on specific needs) for this 14-day period. During the quarantine period inmates are closely monitored, they are also tested for COVID-19 when they first arrive at the centre and on day-12 before being cleared to join the main population.

Essential services are still available to inmates during the quarantine period and our staff work hard to ensure these inmates have regular access to phones and support services.

Isolation

If an inmate develops cold or flu like symptoms, they are immediately isolated in-situ, assessed by a clinician, and tested if needed. The inmate will be monitored and will not return to their normal routine until the health provider is confident, they pose no COVID-19 risk.

Management of COVID positive inmates

All COVID positive inmates are transferred to a designated area of the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC) in Silverwater. Female inmates who test positive for COVID-19 are transferred and managed at Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre.

Inmates are closely monitored and receive the appropriate health care.

Any inmate who requires acute care is transferred to a public hospital.

Staging process for inmates being transferred from metropolitan reception centres

To further reduce risk, CSNSW has introduced a 7-day staging process that will ensure inmates transferred from reception centres in metropolitan Sydney are quarantined from the main population  for 7-days with a test on day 5 prior to being cleared to join the main population.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Staff

Staff in all facilities must wear a KN95/P2 mask at all times while at work in a correctional centre. A face shield or safety goggles are required in all inmate areas. Additional PPE including gloves, gown, eye protection and a KN95/P2 mask is required for any staff working with new reception inmates and in quarantine and isolation areas.

Inmates

Inmates moving through a correctional centre reception room/intake, on escort and attending court must wear a face mask. Additionally, any COVID-19 positive inmates are required to wear a mask when interacting with staff but not while they are alone in cell. Hand sanitiser is available to all inmates in common areas.

Screening processes

All centres are screening staff and any persons prior to entry. This includes a temperature check and screening questions regard COVID-19 case locations. Anyone with a temperature of 37.5 degrees or above is not permitted to enter. Similarly, anyone exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms are not be permitted to enter.

Rapid antigen screening tests

At key locations, with the support of JH&FMHN, CSNSW has introduced Rapid Antigen Screening Tests for staff and inmates to help detect and identify potential COVID-19 cases.

Programs and Education

Ensuring inmates have access to education, programs and services is important. Service delivery practices are adjusted based on relevant Public Health Orders and current risk levels.

For more detailed information regarding the impact of, and response to, ongoing COVID restrictions on custody-based criminogenic programs view our statement of impact.

Visits

In-person visits were suspended on Thursday 24 June 2021 and will recommence when it is safe to do so.

Visits for family and friends

We understand the importance and the benefits for inmates of staying in touch with friends and family. Video visits continue to be available and bookings can be made online or over the phone.

Legal/professional visits

Video visits are strongly encouraged at this time for all legal and professional visitors. All visits must be pre-booked and visitors will be subject to the conditions of entry which include compliance with current Public Health Orders, temperature testing and now in some locations, rapid antigen screening. From 8 November 2021, all person entering NSW correctional centres for these purposes must be fully vaccinated. CSNSW holds regular briefings through the Legal Practitioners Consultative Group

While video visits are available at all correctional centres, there may be times where due to the level of demand for the service or local logistical issues, service may be delayed.

Conditional release power

Legislative changes were made in response to COVID-19 which give the Commissioner for CSNSW authority to conditionally release some low risk and vulnerable sentenced inmates from prison if this is necessary for the safety and security of our prisons. To date, no inmates have been released to parole under this arrangement.

Support for inmates

Health and other support services continue to operate.

Our staff hold regular briefings with inmates to ensure new information is communicated quickly and ensure there is a clear understanding of the protective measures in place and the rationale behind them.

We continue to provide resources and advice regarding hygiene, COVID-19 and vaccination information to inmates. Additionally, hand sanitiser, soap and disinfectant supplies are closely monitored and replenished as needed.

Inmates can seek advice from Services and Programs Officers, Justice Health or the medical provider in privately operated prisons and also contact the Customer Service Line if they have a complaint.

Vaccinations

JH&FMHN commenced rolling out vaccinations for staff and inmates in March 2021 and the vaccination program continues across the state. Vaccinations are voluntary but strongly encouraged.

Free phone calls

Each week, inmates have three free phone calls credited to their account. This includes one international and two domestic or three domestic phone calls.

Supporting vulnerable inmates

Just like in the wider community, there are inmates who are at greater risk if they contract the virus. CSNSW is working with Justice Health to ensure that the needs of those more at risk are considered. Justice Health has identified and is closely monitoring inmates at increased risk from infection, including those with a history of chronic illness and the aged.

Community Corrections

Community Corrections offices are open and continue to manage and provide services to people on a community-based sentence or parole order.

To protect the safety of staff, offenders and the community, some changes to normal services may apply from time to time.

The following still applies:

  • If you have been released from custody you must follow the reporting instructions that were provided to you by Community Corrections before your release.
  • You must maintain contact with your Community Corrections Officer.

If you are unwell or if you have been tested for COVID-19, don’t attend a Community Corrections office.  Contact your Community Corrections Officer by phone if:

  • you have any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing), or
  • you have been told to self-isolate, or
  • you have been in close contact with any person who is required to self-isolate or has tested positive to the coronavirus.

Find the Community Corrections office number in the NSW Government Directory.

Please monitor this page or contact your Community Corrections Office for further information.

Recovery

Work is underway to begin safely easing restrictions across our operations.

Like hospitals and aged care facilities, correctional centres continue to be high-risk settings and key safety measures will need to remain in place.

From 8 November 2021, contractors and third parties may enter correctional centres subject to meeting all entry criteria including the requirement to be fully vaccinated.

Further detail about key recovery activities such as the recommencement of in-person visits will be provided in the coming weeks.

If you have questions about our response to COVID-19 you can contact us by phone on 02 8346 1300 between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

Note our staff are bound by the Privacy and Personal Information Act 1998 and the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 which restricts what information they can disclose.

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Last updated: 04 Nov 2021