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Over 1,900 Ontario inmates released to reduce COVID-19 infection

All inmates being released are considered low-risk to the community

Ontario has released over 1,900 inmates from its jails in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Monday, Lee Chapelle, President of Canadian Prison Consulting appeared on Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS.

He explained that correctional institutions were an ideal breeding ground for the virus, likening it to a stationary cruise ship; a confined space full of people in close proximity to each other.

According to Chapelle, Ontario's provincial jails hold around 8,000 to 9,000 inmates daily, and the ones being released are of low-risk: non-violent, intermittent, or about to finish-up their sentence.

He does wonder why there aren't further measures being exercised at correctional facilities, like requiring correctional officers to carry personal protective equipment (PPEs) on them.

"I can say the union and the correctional officers want it. They're being told not to wear it, unless they're doing a new admit that has answered yes to some of the screening questions."

He assumes it may have to do with the looming shortages of PPEs across the country, but says he believes guards would not need that much compared to frontline healthcare workers.

Chapelle does worry that the inmates being released aren't properly equipped to reintegrate into society.

He said many of the people he works with have learned their lessons by the time they're sentenced, but require proper community support, especially during the pandemic.

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