Solon: Classify inmates according to age, health

RECALLING the 400% increase in jail congestion from the same period last year, a Quezon City lawmaker on Friday asked the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to properly classify the inmates, especially according to age and health conditions.

“Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) have rights, too. Upon classifying the inmates, I suggest that BJMP prepare a separate room which could be used for older prisoners and for those with existing health
problems, who are at higher risk of serious complications should they become infected. This will also serve as a way to stop or minimize transmission, amongst both inmates and BJMP guards and personnel,”
Rep. Alfred Vargas urged.

Vargas warned, “It only takes one positive case to infect the whole population of the jail. The safety of each and everyone is paramount
to the health of the whole prison. This includes the health and protection of the administrators and staff who go in and out of the facility, risking themselves to exposure outside. Asymptomatic cases may easily and unknowingly infect others. Extra health and safety measures are indeed urgently required at this point.”

While keeping a minimum of one-meter for social distancing is suggested to prevent people from acquiring the virus, data from BJMP
shows that they accommodate more than 130,000 PDLs in its 476 jail facilities nationwide. These correction facilities, however, are designed to accommodate around 30,000 inmates only.

“Senior citizens in prison have more health issues. They often suffer from hypertension, diabetes and other stress-related conditions due to
limited mobility. These put them at greater risk of complications from COVID19,” the lawmaker said.

Vargas also encouraged the jail bureau to ensure consistent cleaning and sanitation in its common areas. He further urged prison officials
and personnel to take necessary precautions such as wearing masks and using alcohol to wipe and disinfect surfaces, “Our prison officials
and personnel must also make sure that they themselves are observing proper health protocols as they go about their work.”

“The government is doing what it can to create long-term solutions to address the jail congestion through infrastructure and a faster
justice system. For the time being, COVID haunts everyone like a nightmare. Immediate solutions should be implemented to save as many
>> Filipinos as we can from getting infected with the virus, including the PDLs,” said Vargas.