Statement - Release low-risk inmates to slow spread of COVID-19 in prisons

April 15, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Marie-Claude Landry, the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission issues the following statement:

“The Canadian Human Rights Commission supports the Minister of Public Safety’s call to Correctional Services Canada and the Parole Board of Canada to consider the early release of low-risk federal inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Specifically, the Commission supports the release of low-risk and vulnerable inmates, including older inmates, pregnant inmates, those with serious medical conditions, those with children, and inmates who are close to release or participating in temporary release programs.

“We encourage Correctional Service Canada to work with community partners and families to ensure that all inmates who are released are supported and able to transition back into the community safely. Testing for COVID-19, housing, food, and access to health care must all be in place prior to any inmate’s release.

“The Commission acknowledges the challenges facing correctional facilities in this extraordinary time. The health and human rights of everyone in these facilities must remain a priority when implementing COVID-19 distancing and other restrictive measures.

“Canada’s correctional institutions are connected to our communities in countless ways. As we move swiftly to contain the spread of COVID-19, nobody can be forgotten or ignored.”