ID: COV-019 03 Nov 2020

The Social and Environmental Implications of the Novel Coronavirus on Institutional and Community Corrections in South Africa

South Africa is experiencing the worst outbreak of COVID-19 on the African continent. Amidst many other social and economic pressures facing the country, the surge of coronavirus cases has also disrupted operations in correctional environments. Incarcerated individuals are among the most vulnerable as they are susceptible to infectious disease due to higher rates of chronic and acute illness, close confinement, and overcrowding. Despite the advances in upholding prisoner’s rights by the South African government and the pandemic responses by the Department of Correctional Services, the novelty of this virus exposes the weaknesses in systems ill-equipped to deal with a rapidly growing pandemic. This article chronicles the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa’s correctional system, its response, and continued areas for improvement, highlighting the unique context of South Africa’s history related to corrections and contagion. (COV-019)

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