COVID-19 UPDATE

PLS is very conscious of the potential impact of COVID-19 on the prison population.

We are advocating with the State government to release as many prisoners as possible and to improve health, medical and welfare services. Our joint press release on this issue can be found in the News section of this website.

The response to the risk of COVID-19 changes almost daily.

We are regularly seeking updates from Queensland Corrective Services about their response plans to manage COVID-19.

The information provided below is current as of 31 March 2020:

Health screening for all correctional centres

PLS has been advised by Queensland Health they are working closely with Queensland Corrective Services with the aim of preventing and preparing for any cases of COVID-19 occurring in prison.

From 27 March 2020, medical screening, including temperature checks, commenced for all officers and other essential visitors entering Queensland Corrective Services prisons.

On 28 March 2020, Queensland Health changed its protocols for who meets the threshold for testing. Anyone showing a temperature of more than 38 degrees and flu-like symptoms now meets the threshold for COVID-19 testing.

Visits and Activities

Personal and legal visits to prisons are not currently permitted.

We understand that prisoners are continuing to receive out of cell time for industries, education, and training and recreation time.

PLS remains open

We have more lawyers than ever answering our telephone advice line. We will continue to arrange telephone links with our clients although there may be some delays due to high demand. PLS will continue to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as our staff are set up to work from home.

 

COVID -19 and Parole

PLS has introduced new processes to help more prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These processes include:

  • Increasing our parole advocacy (including exceptional circumstances parole applications)
  • More lawyers answering the prison telephone advice lines

PLS wants to hear from prisoners who fall into any of the following categories: 

  • Aged 60 years or over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • People with a chronic medical condition
  • People with asthma or a respiratory condition
  • People with a weakened or compromised immune system (such as people with cancer)

Not everyone who is vulnerable to COVID-19 will be able to receive our help.

The Parole Board can only release people who they consider do not pose an unacceptable risk to the community. They will need evidence of medical conditions for exceptional circumstances.

If you are concerned about a loved one in prison who is vulnerable to COVID-19, please ask them to ring PLS on the prison Arunta telephone system.

 

Queensland Corrective Services Information:

Information about the management of the pandemic in Queensland prisons can be found on the Queensland Corrective Services website at:

https://corrections.qld.gov.au/pandemic-visits-to-queensland-prisons-cease/

 

Queensland Courts Information:

Information about the operation of the Queensland Courts can be found in the Latest News section on the Queensland Courts website at:

https://www.courts.qld.gov.au/

 

Contacting PLS:

Prison telephone advice line: We are continuing to answer our prison telephone advice line which operates in all Queensland prisons. We are consulting with Queensland Corrective Services to try and expand this service so that we can try to help as many prisoners as we can during this pandemic.

Community advice line: We are continuing to answer our community advice line. This will be answered by a volunteer solicitor on Monday and Wednesday evenings between 6:30-7:30pm.

Email enquiries: There will be delays in responding to email enquiries. We encourage friends and families to tell their loved ones to call us directly on the prison advice line. We need to speak to prisoners directly to decide if we can offer them assistance.

Administration line: PLS staff working from home will endeavour to answer our administration line. However there may be delays in responding to calls.