Covid-19 emergency in prison: Current management and forensic perspectives

Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
The Covid-19 pandemic is currently a major worldwide public health problem. Contagion within prisons and in other custodial settings will need to be addressed promptly, but the management of preventive measures will be difficult due to overcrowding and inmates and officers’ close physical contact. There may also be less access to care than in community settings. Accordingly, prisons are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of infection, and in addition to the likely greater risks of contagion attention must be paid to the psychological problems that the pandemic can have on the prison population. Riots and episodes of violence have already taken place in various prisons. With the inevitable restrictions on social contact and family meetings, prisoners who already are at increased risk of mental illness and suicide are more susceptible to adverse psychological repercussions. From a forensic point of view, therefore, we stress the need for the development of a strong support network by mental health workers for the prison population.

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