ID: COV-016 03 Nov 2020

British Columbia Provincial Corrections’ Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Correctional Policy and Practice

Health and justice officials across North America have described correctional institutions as petri dishes for the transmission of COVID-19. Individuals in custody commonly have health profiles that are more compromised than those of the general population. Institutional infrastructure issues and custody counts that create barriers to protocols, including physical distancing measures, that health authorities recommend to limit the spread of the virus compound these profiles. Many correctional authorities have struggled to implement strategies to mitigate infection rates among custodial populations. This paper examines the strategies employed by one provincial correctional authority in Canada that has to date successfully prevented the spread of COVID-19 in custody centers by adopting a health-informed approach to the crisis rather than a traditional justice-informed response. The findings highlight practices that can inform the responses of other jurisdictions as the pandemic continues and identify areas of future research on the effects of COVID-19 on incarcerated persons, correctional and health-care staff, and communities. (COV-016)

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