Millions of ‘free’ Australians have been held captive to COVID-19 lockdowns.
There have been countless cries on social media about strict restrictions and curfew conditions making Australians feel like prisoners in their own homes.
What about actual prisoners? Have they felt any more a ‘prisoner’ under COVID conditions?
It seems so. And they’re ‘being rewarded’ for serving time under stricter conditions during the pandemic.
Thousands of Victorian prisoners will have their sentences cut by a combined 487 years in return for being confined to their cells for 24 hours a day and experiencing harsher pandemic measures.
You read that right.
They’ve been granted ‘emergency management days’ in return for measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout prisons.
According to a Fairfax report, eligible prisoners will have their prison terms commuted by one day for every day of significant restrictions they faced.
From the beginning of lockdown to the end of August, the sentences of 4313 Victorian prisoners were reduced by 71,020 days and another 106,874 days for offenders on remand.
“The safety and security of staff and prisoners is our highest priority and emergency management days are a critical tool to maintaining order and safety during these challenging times,” said a Victorian government spokeswoman, adding that reductions were a privilege and could be taken away if prisoners misbehaved.
“Despite the ongoing challenges and restrictions prisoners are facing, we’ve experienced the lowest levels of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in six years.”
Usually, Victorian law states that prisoners are eligible for four days off their sentence for every day of deprivation.
However, only one day would be granted, in reflection of the pandemic’s impact on the wider community.
Prisoners have experienced harsher than normal conditions, with fewer hours out of cells, less free time, more lockdowns and 14-day quarantines regardless of infection risk.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Andrews government has been subjecting people in prison to punitive practices like protective quarantine and lockdowns, which are too often both code for solitary confinement,” said human rights lawyer Monique Hurley.
“Reducing the sentences of people who have been subjected to these practices is a reasonable first step, but the Andrews government must do more to reduce the number of people being subjected to these harmful practices in the first place.”
Do you agree with these reduced sentences?
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