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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

CSNSW is working towards safely resuming key services, implementing a number of recovery measures including the return of in person visits and group programs within correctional centres.

The recent developments in relation to the Omicron variant present a number of challenges for corrections which we are actively addressing.

The below centres are currently unable to operate in-person visits for family and friends due to operational reasons including COVID-19 outbreaks.

  • The Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC)
  • Metropolitan Special Programs Centre (MSPC)
  • Bathurst 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 10-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 and Omicron strains, inmates are now housed by themselves or with one other person (depending on specific needs) for this 10-day period. During the quarantine period inmates are closely monitored, they are also tested for COVID-19 when they first arrive on day 1 and then again on day 10 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

CSNSW has in place a 5-day staging process for Macquarie and Hunter Correctional Centres which will ensure inmates transferred from other centres across the state are quarantined from the main population for 5-days prior to being cleared to join the main population.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Staff

All staff working in courts, police cells, reception areas of centres that receive fresh custody inmates, quarantine, isolation and staging areas must wear a N95/P2 mask and face shield or safety goggles at all times. In addition to the N95/P2 mask and face shield or safety goggles, staff must wear disposable gloves and a long-sleeved gown when coming into direct physical contact with an inmate or in a COVID-19 isolation area. Staff working in Orange Zone areas must wear a surgical mask at all times.

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- although if an inmate asks for a mask to wear in-cell they will be provided with masks. 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 will not be permitted to enter.

Rapid antigen screening tests

At all correctional centre 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. Third parties and contractors were approved to enter correctional facilities subject to vaccination requirements from 9 March 2022.

Visits for family and friends

We understand the importance and the benefits for inmates of staying in touch with friends and family. Visits are currently limited to three visitors per inmate, including children of any age (three adults OR one adult and two children OR two adults and one child).  Visitors must adhere to the vaccination requirements, which is outlined in further communications for visitors. All visitors aged 5 years and above must undertake a Rapid Antigen Screening test on-site and go through a screening process prior to proceed with the visit.

On 2 April 2022 , changes to the conditions of in person social visits will be made. The safety of our staff and inmates remains our top priority. We are aiming to expand the booking system from 28 March 2022  and will communicate the changes to conditions for visits by way of email and social media platforms.

Inmates must be at least double vaccinated and wear a surgical mask for the duration of the visit – boosters to occur within 4 weeks where practicable.

Important Notice: For operational reasons, a number of correctional centres might not be able to proceed with phase 2 conditions of visits resumption until such a date that their booking system is updated. This means that till such a date that the system is updated for all the centres, you may only be able to book a visit for two people aged 16 & above and have a 30 minutes visit as per previous phase. Prior to make a booking, Visitors are strongly advised to call the correctional centre that they intend to visit to check the number of visitors allowed and the duration of the visit.

Video visits continue to be available and bookings can be made online or over the phone.

Legal/professional visits

In person visits for legal and professional visitors resumed on 15 November 2021. However, video visits are strongly encouraged at this time for all legal and professional visitors. From 8 November 2021, all person entering NSW correctional centres for these purposes must be fully vaccinated and adhere to the same entry requirements as CSNSW staff. 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.

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 for staff are mandatory, and for inmates they are voluntary, but strongly encouraged.

Free phone calls

Each week, inmates have two free phone calls credited to their account. This includes one international and one domestic or two 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 however as we deal with the impact of the Omicron variant, you are encouraged to contact your local office before physically attending. Community Corrections 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 9 March 2022, 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: 01 Apr 2022