May 6, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wellness Within, an Organization for Health and Justice, calls for the immediate release of prisoners amid record-breaking COVID-19 outbreak
Wellness Within is a registered non-profit organization working for reproductive justice, prison abolition, and health equity in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki (Halifax, Nova Scotia).
Amid a record number of active cases in Nova Scotia, and an increase in hospitalizations related to COVID-19, prisoners are being held in unsafe conditions.
While a province-wide shutdown took effect on April 28th, Nova Scotia has not addressed the mounting risks in local prisons. More than 350 individuals are currently in custody, a substantial increase since the province announced temporary releases for some inmates in the spring of 2020. These numbers are well beyond what is acceptable to combat the spread of disease. This has created an unsafe environment for both inmates and staff.
We know that prisons increase the risk of infection for a variety of diseases; with inadequate healthcare, ongoing sanitation issues and added difficulties related to social distancing in close quarters. Over the past year, we have already seen outbreaks in prisons across Canada, threatening the possibility of a deadly third-wave in Nova Scotia’s prison system. This requires urgent action to protect the population of imprisoned people already facing unique vulnerabilities.
We call for the immediate release of prisoners to safe housing, and appropriate funding for organizations providing transitional housing and other supports, such as Coverdale Courtwork Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society.