Tasmanian criminologists, law professors and policing experts are among those calling for more protection for prisoners during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a second open letter, more than 400 experts from across the country have urged the Australian Government to "reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the Australian criminal justice system, especially prisons and youth detention centres".
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The letter calls for more testing, medical treatment for those with coronavirus symptoms, regular updates for prisoners, their families, and their lawyers, as well as "independent monitoring" of the government's response to the pandemic within correctional facilities.
It also calls for the early release of prisoners "where it is safe to do so".
University of Tasmania police studies coordinator Dr Isabelle Bartkowiak-Theron was one of the hundreds of experts who backed the calls.
Also a senior researcher at the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, Dr Bartkowiak-Theron has studied the impact of policing and criminal justice on vulnerable offenders, victims, and witnesses for two decades.
While Tasmania has yet to record any confirmed cases of the virus within its prison system, Dr Bartkowiak-Theron said "complacency is our worst enemy in the current situation".
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"Many people are in jail for non-violent offences for a short time, which could turn into a death sentence if they catch the disease during that time," she said.
"The point is that the sentence needs to remain fair, especially in the current circumstances.
"We cannot put people in jeopardy of catching a disease just because of the 'do the crime, do the time' argument. If prison is not necessary, let's look at other options."
The letter does not call for all prisoners to be released either.
Instead it focuses on non-violent offenders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, vulnerable and elderly prisoners, and those with less than six months remaining on their sentence.
"We are not talking about opening the doors to all, " Dr Bartkowiak-Theron said.
"I think we need to shift the way we think, prisons are expensive.
"Why wouldn't we want to shift the resources needed to keep a non-violent person in prison or a person in remand onto the health system which is currently under so much financial and social pressure?
"It takes one person to make the decision to reallocate resources, there is no justification for not making that decision right now."
Corrections Minister Elise Archer said this week the Tasmania Prison Service had already implemented "strict measures" to reduce the risk of an outbreak, including suspending all visitors, and enforcing social distancing.
"The Tasmanian Government, along with the TPS, is currently considering and preparing for a range of further measures to deal with COVID-19 and its potential impact on the state's prison system," Ms Archer said.
But those measures were not enough, according to Tasmanian prisoner advocate Greg Barns, who also signed the open letter.
The Prisoner's Legal Service chairman said the government was "breaching its duty of care to prisoners by placing them at high risk of infection".
"We are very disappointed that the government has not done what it needs to do to provide protection to prisoners, and that is to remove them from the prison," he said.
"We are talking about prisoners who are in poor health, older prisoners who are of no threat to the community, and prisoners who are coming to the end of their sentence for non-violent offences.
"The fact there has not been a case is neither here nor there, the risk still remains very high. While the government is telling the rest of the community to batten down the hatches, they are prepared to expose prisoners to harm or even death."
New South Wales has already started preparing to release prisoners early amid the pandemic.
While internationally, thousands of inmates are set to be released early in the UK, and Ireland proposed to release prisoners who have less than a year left on their sentence.
Iran has already released 85,000 prisoners since the outbreak.
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