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Canada Weighing Options on Releasing Offenders Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – Statement

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TORONTO (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 25th March, 2020) The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is mulling options regarding the safe release of offenders amid the growing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a CSC spokesperson said in a statement to Sputnik.

“We are examining what options are available to us in collaboration with the Parole board of Canada and what flexibilities there are to safely release offenders into the community,” the statement read.

The CSC added that the service has the operational capacity to address respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19, and that they are in close communication with and following the guidance of Canadian public health agencies.

Civil liberties advocacy groups, most notably, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have argued that closed quarter environments like correctional facilities are breeding grounds for high infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and stressed the need for the release of low-risk offenders.

On March 14, the CSC announced the suspension of in-person visitation privileges, instead offering visitation via video conference and waiving deductions for telephone usage to mitigate the risk of virus spread among inmates.

A number of US jurisdictions including New York City and the state of New Jersey have announced they will release certain inmates serving time for non-violent offences.

According to government data from 2017/2018 there are 38,786 adults in provincial/territorial or Federal custody on a given day.

On Tuesday, Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam revealed that the number of identified Canadian novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases now stands at 2,176, a jump of almost 50 percent from the 1,474 confirmed COVID-19 cases announced a day earlier.

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