Updated on: 6 April 2020
Penitentiary institutions follow well-developed policies and procedures to prevent and combat transmissible diseases, similar to those promoted at community level. This means that penitentiaries are prepared to take immediate action whenever cases are identified or suspected, including isolating persons, if necessary. We are keeping under constantobservation the health of inmates, especially those who are in isolation.
In order to limit, as much as possible, the transfer of the inmates between penitentiary institutions, as well as the presentation to the judicial bodies, the courts were asked to hear the inmates through videoconferences. Where necessary inmates were brought to court while respecting the social distancing.
As in the transfer of inmates, vehicles were disinfected after each transfer. After the emergency state, all the regular transfers have been suspended, except of those related to the execution of the sentences, changes of detention regimes or for presentation to courts.
In order to protect the physical integrity and health of the penitentiary population, given that the complete medical situation of visitors who could come into direct contact with persons deprived of their liberty is not known, it was decide taking the necessary measures to suspend the visits in penitentiary units, permissions to leave the penitentiary, as well as other lucrative activities carried out outside the detention places, for external beneficiaries.
We have continued to find ways to keep inmates in close contact with their families and thus provide them with alternative means, such as supplementing the right to online communications and increasing the duration and number of telephone calls.
Social-educational activities carried out by external collaborators in penitentiary institutions were limited to a minimum, as well as social educational activities planned outside detention places. In the same time, in the close circuit Radio-TV studios from the penitentiary institutions, informative, educational and moral religious nature shows are made, compensating for the temporary limitation of the social-educational activities ordered during the state of emergency. In addition, in order to maintain an adequate level of information on the evolution of the emergency situation, the TV program was extended.
The prison staff that travelled in the last 14 days to areas/countries affected by COVID-19 will be self-isolated at home for 14 days and will be monitored by the local Public Health Departments and family physician all this time. This also applies to family members living in the same household.
Measures have been taken to ensure the continuity of the medical act and the security service.
The medical staff is screening the employees before entering the penitentiary, in the event of an identified person with influenza symptoms or other acute respiratory conditions.
Employees are trained, personal protective equipment is ensured, spaces for washing hands, and disinfectants for surfaces are available. Protective masks are provided only when employees have symptoms of cough, sneeze or when are assisting an infected person.
Vehicles used for staff transport will be disinfected daily, in order to provide safe transport.
Penitentiary officers who, come into contact with civilians due to their work duties are prohibited to come in contact with inmates. For certain activities carried out inside the detention areas, measures were taken to „social distance” and limit contact between prison officers and inmates.
In order to avoid situations of epidemiological risk, measures have been taken so that 30% of staff working in eight hour shifts a day (except the operational, medical and psychosocial intervention staff) remain at home, based on a schedule approved by the director of each penitentiary or work from home.
All staff training activities were suspended in order to comply with the measures of preventing the spread of the virus.
In mid-March, Romania entered a state of emergency, meaning that first emergency measures with gradual application were established. In this context, inmates were informed about the military rules issued by the Minister of Internal Affairs. Foreign inmates had access to information translated into English and French.
Since basic hygiene is an essential part of the preventive approach, good practices are promoted among inmates through educational posters, flyers, audio- video materials, etc. Hand sanitizer facilities are available, not only in detention rooms, but also in other common areas where activities take place.
An institutional priority of the National Administration of Penitentiaries (NAP) is supporting the staff, especially those who are going through difficult situations professionally and/or personally. For this reason, a special section regarding COVID- 19, was created on our website (http://anp.gov.ro/blog/lnk/covid-2019-informatii-utile- pentru-personalul-anp/). In this section, employees can find psychological recommendation on how to cope with this situation and useful information from reliable sources.
General prevention measures:
Intervention measures specific to inmates extradited from areas with epidemiological risk of COVID-19:
Crisis intervention measures:
For any further questions regarding the procedures in the state of emergency taken by the National Administration of Penitentiaries of Romania please contact the following:
Alexandru Negrici (Cooperation and Programs Department)
National Administration of Penitentiaries
Supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union