Inmates want jail terms cut for Coronavirus isolation

Halden prison.Halden prison.Photo: Heiko Junge / Scanpix

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Isolation as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is so stressful for inmates in Bergen prison that they are now asking for the length of their jail sentences cut.

“It feels like double punishment. We sit locked all day and nothing happens. Now we have been sitting like this for over two months,” said Tor Jone Veastad, who is serving a longer sentence in Bergen prison, to NRK.

He pointed out that for detainees on bail and with visitation rights, every day in custody counts as one and a half. The custody period is then deducted in the sentences. A similar discount for two months of coronavirus isolation may mean one month shorter in the sentences.

According to Veasstad, the inmates sit locked in the housing units, without the opportunity to talk to others, train or play table tennis. Telephone calls and letters are the only means of contact with the outside world. He further claimed that passivity and lack of social contact are causing irritation and aggression among the inmates.

He supports the demands of prisoners’ union representatives in Bergen prison. In addition, the description of the reality is widely shared by prison manager Harald Åsaune, who emphasized that the restrictions are imposed for the lives and health of the inmates.

However, Justice Minister Monica Mæland (H) rejected the claim.

“Many are hit hard by this crisis, including prisoners in Norwegian prisons. But I do not think that there is any basis for a reduction in punishment,” she told NRK.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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