Queensland and South Australia have already reinstated visits to correctional centres and it’s time for NSW to do the same.
Petition founder Renee Mcnab is extremely passionate about this issue.
“As an admin of a prison advocate page, I see and read the impacts that no visits have on families, loved ones and inmates,” she said.
The rate of COVID-19 infection in New South Wales is flattening dramatically, and while we are not suggesting that COVID-19 distancing laws are removed just yet, we push for safe visits to be opened. This is a perfectly viable option given the current restrictions in pubs and clubs and sports games.
Co-ordinator of Justice Action Brett Collins believes that visits need to be re-opened for the benefit of both the inmate and the family.
“The loss of visits removes the single most stabilising factor in prisoners’ lives and their families,” Brett stated.
The mental anguish of isolation for prisoners with no visitors
The mental impact of COVID-19 within prisons is bound to be devastating for a long time to come.
“Most importantly, as an ex-inmate myself, I know the benefits visits bring to you mentally and emotionally,“ Renee stated.
Russell Manser is the Founder and Director of The Voice of a Survivor. Voice of a Survivor works alongside those who have been abused in institutions, assisting them in their physical, mental and emotional recovery.
“I receive 30-40 prison calls a day with my organisation. I can hear sadness and desperation in the voices of the people I talk to,” Russell said.
“I know a lot of inmates are struggling to maintain good mental health,” he said.
Lack of of contact impacts prisoners’ families and children
The isolation not only impacts prisoners but their families and children too.
“The loss of visits removes the single most stabilising factor in prisoners’ lives and their families. The personal contact, the touching, smell and laughs are links to love, hope and the future,” added Brett.
“Children are even more affected by the loss of parents. Visits ensure that trust and familiarity continue. Video tablets in prisoners’ cells don’t replace the excitement of physical visits.”
The petition aims to have visits opened by Christmas this year, an incredibly achievable goal in current circumstances.
“It’s important to start visits again to allow inmates to connect with their families, see their kids, especially seeing as though Christmas is coming up,” Renee stated.