By Anam Hassan
With strict lockdown measures having been enforced within institutions where social distancing remains difficult, several prisons in Queensland have breached human rights through the use of solitary confinement as a means to keep prisoners distanced. It has been reported that some prisoners have been kept in solitary confinement for up to 22-hours a day. Such incidents have been occurring for months.
Additionally, another breach of human rights can be found in the lack of access to lawyers. As well as reduced contact with those pivotal to prisoner cases, there has also been limited contact with family. Therefore, it seems that they have been isolated from the outside world, without adequate support or appropriate medical and health care that is needed to retain some sense of normalcy within the system.
The director of Prisoners’ Legal Service, Helen Blaber, has said that ‘it is unacceptable to use solitary confinement as a response to the pandemic instead of humane medical isolation’. With these experiences having been going on for approximately 4 months, those who have suffered from such inconsistencies will likely experience some psychological issues.
However, it is said that thorough investigation by an Inspector is underway. In overseeing current prison life, this will hopefully restore the rights which have been breached. Despite the stigma attached to prisoners, their rights – especially those regarding health services and opportunities to communicate – must be restored.