The humans inside our prisons

How we can work together for successful reintegration

Health and humanity were the key focus of the corrections system collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for many of the humans inside our prisons, transformed their incarceration for the good.

The humans inside our prisons

“The immediate reactions of corrections services were remarkably responsive. They were coordinated well with external support services to create a safe and comforting environment for everyone within the facilities, and many of the responses were transformative for the people inside our prisons.” Peta said

Last month, Thriving Communities Partnership spoke with Peta Blood, Manager Services Development and Integrity at Corrective Services NSW, Department of Communities and Justice and Charlotte Jones, General Manager, Mental Health Legal Centre. Peta and Charlotte shared the many positive outcomes of applying a human centred approach to ensure the safety and well-being of inmates during COVID-19 restrictions and how we can work together for successful reintegration in the future.

With inmates unable to connect face to face with family and friends, the introduction of technology not only addressed this challenge, but also facilitated them to connect in a way that was never possible before. By allowing inmates to use video conference facilities, many barriers to accessing face to face visits including long distances, times of day and the comfort of children were addressed.

“For the very first time, inmates were able to see their children, partners, families, and even much-loved family pets since being incarcerated. This had a huge impact on their wellbeing. The use of technology is something we anticipate will remain in future practices.” Charlotte said

The human centred approach to COVID-19 further reiterated the importance of treating inmates with dignity and humanity, with no judgement and bias, in our coordinated efforts to support their reintegration back into the community.

Here are some examples of how we can work together:

  • Remove the stigma about being in prison and focus more on the processes of reintegration
  • Begin the understand the complexities that exist within the corrections system to support the financial stability of people in prison and their families
  • Reiterate that people in prison are still customers and service providers have a responsibility to them
  • Improve ways to negotiate with creditors and reduce debts, increase support for families and access to financial counselling

When asked what good has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and what do you pledge to keep? #keepthegood Peta and Charlotte said…

“Continue to connect our organisations, service providers and good people that can make a difference, and absolutely to continue the dignity for inmates in this space.” Peta Blood, Manager Services Development and Integrity at Corrective Services NSW

“Enable people in prison to continue to be more connected to life in the it retains their humanity. The more we do that, the further we’ll go.” Charlotte Jones, General Manager, Mental Health Legal Centre

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