Covid19 has worsened long-standing problems at the maximum security prison (MSP) in Arouca, say worried relatives of inmates as they called for proper systems to prevent the rampant spreading of the virus.
"The jail is not secured and covid19 is spreading. At MSP, three people are sharing a 10×10 room. Some inmates are policemen, firemen, and even prisons officers. Our government exiled all of them," a relative said on Sunday.
"Some are waiting for 15years without a trial. They are accustomed to inhumane conditions. Even prison officers are saying they too are risking their lives on the job."
Newsday spoke to relatives of inmates (servicemen charged with capital offences and awaiting trials at the high court). The relatives did not want their names revealed publicly, fearful that the authority victimises the inmates.
Sixty-eight more MSP inmates tested positive on Thursday from samples taken between Wednesday and Friday. Earlier, on November 6, 18 MSP inmates tested positive.
"Up to a few days ago, the MSP canteen was closed. We (relatives) can send money through the banking system the prison set up. But the items are coming from Golden Grove," the relative said.
"An officer gives a list of items to inmates. If the inmate pays for 16, they may get ten. If the inmates put something that is not on the list or the prison does not have it, he is charged and given something else he did not ask for."
The relative said the prison system has failed the inmates and even some prison officers.
Another relative alleged inmates’ sandwiches are often spoilt.
"At MSP, people are considered guilty until innocent. The inmates are often given leftovers from the other sections of the prisons. All we could do right now is to pray for their safety," he said.
"The prison system is in a mess and it is scary. We heard that the infirmary is closed and only those who tested positive were moved out of MSP."