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Health

The coronavirus crisis in Britain's prisons | Podcast


When Britain went into an unprecedented lockdown in March, most people were confined to their homes with little more than a short daily walk allowed. But in prisons, lockdown meant an end to an already heavily restrictive way of life. There were no visits allowed, education programmes were paused and prisoners were confined to their cells for more than 23 hours a day, something close to solitary confinement.

David Adams has just been released from prison where he had served more than two years for a series of burglaries. He tells Anushka Asthana that the kind of rehabilitation programmes he benefited from have now been placed on hold. Sarah Lewis is the director of Penal Reform Solutions and was one of those who worked in prison with David. She describes how devastating to inmates and staff the Covid-19 crisis has become in prisons.

As Britain begins to emerges from the strict lockdown conditions, there is yet to be a significant relaxing of the rules in prisons. As institutions battle to put in place technology for video calls, there are increasing worries about what the restrictive conditions mean for prisoners’ mental health. Last week, the Guardian reported five suicides were recorded in prisons in England and Wales in just six days.

A prisoner stands outside his cell on C wing of HMP Wandsworth in south-west London



Photograph: Andrew Aitchison/Corbis via Getty Images

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