How to Find Out If an Inmate is On Lockdown
Several reasons may make the authorities to lock down a prison. One of the main reasons may be riots in prison. However, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lockdown in many jails to control the spread of the virus.
Sincerely, there have been reasons to be fearful. The disease spreads through the air, and prisons have been the hotbeds for infectious diseases. The rooms are squeezed, and people sleep on top of each other. Additionally, there is no fresh air, inmates lack nutritious foods, and the healthcare is not so good.
Lockdowns have a massive and negative toll on the inmates’ physical and mental wellbeing. They may easily lead to violence against fellow inmates and guards. Solitary confinement is worse as it may lead to disordered thinking and an increase in anxiety.
This may lead to a heightened risk of suicide and make mental problems worse. Long-term social isolation increases the chances of premature deaths due to depression.
What Is A Prison Lockdown?
A prison lockdown is a situation that requires that inmates stay in one place. Additionally, the inmates cannot get information, messages, and objects coming from outside. Authorities issue a lockdown to protect the inmates from an external and internal threat. It means that inmates will remain in their cells until the situation is fully addressed. Sometimes it may apply only to particular specific wings or blocks of a cell.
Prisons all over the world have different kinds of emergency. They include the following:
An emergency lockdown happens on short notice when there is an imminent risk to the inmates’ lives. The limit in movement is short and simple, and it ends once the danger has been eliminated. Mostly, an emergency lockdown is lifted in a matter of hours.
The prison authority will issue a preventive lockdown once they notice a weakness or unusual situation in the prison system. They react and act before an action that may harm the inmates takes place. However, this kind of lockdown can last for an undetermined time.
A preventive lockdown may also help offer protection to the members of staff at the facility. It may mean that some meals and courtyard time will be suspended. Under extreme situations, the non-correctional staff, such as supplementary staff and educators, will be evacuated.
How Is Life Under Prison Lockdown During the Covid19 Pandemic?
The kinds of lockdowns that are in society are also mirrored in prisons. However, they are being magnified, and inmates cannot take part in so many activities. Many prisons in the country have completely shut off or reduced visitations drastically.
Some of the prisons have retained the level of visits though those who visit must go through testing. Other than the mental wellbeing of the prisoners, regular visits will give them emotional support. Moreover, the visitors will bring the inmates essential items.
The ban on visits means reduced access to medicine, no money to purchase necessities from the commissary, and special food in some instances. There have been reports of an increase in violence, riots, and Special Forces deployment to quell the unrest.
Moreover, there have been reports of deaths of incarcerated and staffers in several jails across the globe. There have been protests because of overcrowding, and lack of basic equipment, including masks and soap.
Because of the pandemic, there has been an increase in the use of solitary confinement. Human rights activists have been in arms to protest against solitary confinement. They insist that it disregards the fundamental rights, especially in the time of the pandemic.
Inmates are held in cells for up to 24 hours because there is a lack of staff and as a measure to reduce the disease’s spread. None of the excuses is legitimate to keep the prisoners in such kind of confinement.
Any interventions to curb the spread of covid-19 should not amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, torture, or unfair punishment.
What Does Lockdown Mean in Jail
For many prisoners, being under lockdown is a nightmare. Loneliness is the order of the day. Psychologists agree that loneliness is as harmful as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. Being lonely comes with feelings, including grief, guilt, fatigue, distress, boredom, dread, and depression. When the inmates are in the cells for up to 23 hours a day, they will develop suicidal thoughts.
Inmates on lockdown have it much worse. They are in confined spaces; they do not have access to family, and are in a room with strangers. It becomes worse if you are not on good terms with your fellow inmate.
Visitations will be limited and sometimes no physical visitation but only through video conferencing. Moreover, since covid-19 meant that most jails would be on lockdown, prisons have curbed monitoring and oversight of prisoners in jail.
The monitors, such as the National Preventive Mechanism, are an essential safeguard against ill-treatment of those incarcerated. Lockdown should not mean that the rights of inmates be overlooked.
How to Find Out If an Inmate Is On Lockdown
You may be curious to know if an inmate is on lockdown. There are several ways to locate them. If your loved one is in a federal prison, you can visit the Federal Bureau inmate locator. There are specific requirements, including age, race, sex, and the inmates’ number.
Moreover, you can visit the facility directly and ask if the inmate is on lockdown, and how they are faring on. You can also call the facility directly and source for any information you need. However, you will have to prove your identity and show that you have a personal relationship with the inmate.
Although lockdowns are necessary as a temporary measure to curb the spread of covid-19, their effectiveness and legitimacy significantly depends on their regulation. The duration of any lockdown needs to be necessary and proportionate.
All the restrictions should be based on an independent health assessment and advice from the professionals. They also need to be transparent with built-in review mechanisms.