Lift ban on face masks for prisoners, lawyers say after Covid outbreaks
The Dutch Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys want the ban on prisoners wearing face masks to be lifted. They worry about prisoners' health and safety as more and more coronvirus infections are reported in penitentiary institutions.
"The wearing of face masks should be allowed, especially if prisoners belong to a risk group," association chairman Jeroen Soeteman said to NOS Radio 1 Journaal. According to him, infections among prisoners are still limited, but rising rapidly.
Earlier on Thursday the Volkskrant reported that 19 prisoners at the Heerhugowaard penitentiary filed charges against the prison director because of coronavirus infections in the institution. They blame the spread of the virus on the face mask ban, among other things. The Roermond penitentiary also reported that 84 of its inmates are currently in quarantine after three of them tested positive for the coronavirus.
Face masks are banned in prisons so that guards can identify prisoners and read their moods on their faces. Inmates caught wearing a mask can face penalties like not being allowed to exercise or receive visitors.
Soeteman thinks the need to read the mood of a prison does not outweigh the risk to inmates' health in the midst of a pandemic.