Judges call on government to release 1400 prisoners

With the situation in the nation’s overcrowded jails on a knife-edge due to Covid-19, a group of judges is calling on the government to approve an exceptional law that will clear prisons of around 1400 inmates.

The document signed by “several judges from the courts of penal execution, was delivered to the ministry of justice on Tuesday.

The plan is to ‘pardon’ inmates of certain types of crime who are on the last leg of their sentences and spare the prison system from a ‘catastrophe’ if infections take hold.

Says Lusa, this will involve freeing people who “didn’t pay fines and were sent to jail instead”. But that is almost certainly an over-simplification. Other sources have suggested courts are aleady freeing drug traffickers pre-trail – and three SEF guards charged with murder have been spared preventive custody to serve time under house arrest.

The urgency comes from the understanding that if jails do not see a reduction in prisoner numbers a spread of the virus could be devastating. Already three prison guards are ‘infected’ along with five others serving quarantines while at least one prisoner has been confirmed with the virus.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com