Coronavirus: Czech Prison Service to Limit Intakes of New Prisoners

The Czech Prison Service has asked the courts to postpone accepting prisoners convicted of trivial offenses to prevent the spread of coronavirus in detention facilities.

“This measure would concern convicts charged with minor offenses,” said General Director of the Prison Service Petr Dohnal before the meeting with court officials and Justice Minister Marie Benešová.

With the agreement of the justice minister, the postponement of prison intakes under specific conditions is almost approved.

No prisoners are known to be infected with the coronavirus yet. Of the 12,000 prison officers and civilian employees, 11 have tested positive for COVID-19. Those who were in contact with infected individuals have been placed in quarantine.

Due to the pandemic, Dohnal said, the Prison Service had implemented extensive measures to prevent the spread of the virus to prisons.

“One of these measures was also to ask presidents of regional courts to consider the postponement of prison intakes in the case of convicts who report to the prison on their own on a date set by the court. They are, therefore, not dangerous perpetrators,” said Dohnal.

Even before the meeting, the reactions from regional courts have been positive, as presidents of the courts welcomed the proposed short-term relief to the prison system. Every month, Czech prisons accept about 500 new convicts.

To prevent coronavirus outbreak in prisons, the Prison Service also banned prison visits in mid-March and introduced the practice of taking the body temperature of employees at the entrance.

Meanwhile, Czech prisoners continue to produce face masks to help with the coronavirus crisis. According to Dohnal, inmates produce about 15,000 face masks every day.

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