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Social visits in the works for WA prisoners

The Department of Justice, Corrective Services Division expects to reintroduce physical visits within weeks after attaining appropriate advice on the matter.

Physical distancing will apply during visits and space is being made available.

During the COVID-19 crisis, many prisoners have had access to e-visits with dedicated video conferencing kiosks created at several prisons while some prisoners have also been granted free telephone calls and extra mail privileges.

One of the benefits to come out of the crisis for prisoners is that the kiosks will remain in place until further notice.

Other restrictions being lifted include the use of custodial gymnasiums and sporting ovals, and religious services have also resumed.

Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan noted that while they didnt want to take away visits from the prisoners, it was done with their best intentions in mind.

“When COVID-19 first threatened our State, WA’s Corrective Services moved quickly to prepare custodial facilities to deal with the risk,” Mr Logan said.

“Stopping social visits was not an easy task and came with its own risks to the good order of a prison or custodial facility.”

“But it is to the credit of the department and each custodial facility that they worked co‑operatively, including with prisoners, to put in place measures that almost completely eliminated the threat of the virus taking hold inside.”

Mr Logan also reminded those involved in corrective services to be vigilant as the restrictions are lifted.

“Everyone’s health and safety remains our top priority as we work towards easing the restrictions we introduced to mitigate that risk of COVID-19 entering the custodial estate,” he said.

“We understand the importance of resuming social visits as soon as practicably possible but the process requires careful staging to reduce any risks.

“E-visits have helped make up for the loss of physical visits thanks to a rollout of kiosks. They will continue provide another contact option, particularly for prisoners whose family live abroad or interstate.”

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