Only one out of all inmates in state and local prisons and halfway houses under the Danish Prison and Probation Service has been infected with COVID-19. The Ombudsman finds this very positive. At the same time, however, he recommends, following a recent Ombudsman investigation, that the Prison and Probation Service review its experiences of recent months with a view to determining whether a future pandemic can be handled by means of less restrictive measures.
Following his investigation, the Ombudsman points out that the efforts to keep COVID-19 out of prisons and halfway houses have had noticeable consequences for inmates and residents. Thus, for instance, inmates and residents have not been permitted to work or to have visits and have not been granted leave – or they have had their access to work, visits and leave restricted. In addition, newly admitted inmates and inmates and residents with symptoms have been in isolation.
"The tools used by the Prison and Probation Service to protect inmates from the spread of infection appear to have worked. But at the same time they have made the conditions of people deprived of their liberty more restrictive than normal. It is a difficult balancing act. For this reason I recommend that the Prison and Probation Service review its experiences with a view to determining whether a future pandemic can be handled effectively by means of less restrictive measures", says Parliamentary Ombudsman Niels Fenger. During the COVID-19 period, visiting teams from the Ombudsman have carried out monitoring visits to the local prison of "Blegdamsvejens Arrest", to the units for foreign nationals sentenced to deportation of "Nyborg Fængsel", a state prison, and to the "Pension Engelsborg" halfway house. In all three institutions there was frustration among inmates/residents.
For further information on the Ombudsman's investigation and findings, please see the press release of the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Source: Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman