Prisoners in NSW have been staying in touch with family and friends via video calls since visits were stopped as the coronavirus pandemic turned lives upside down.
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin says the state’s 12,700 prisoners are getting more face time with their loved ones than they were in pre-pandemic times.
More than 100,000 video calls have been conducted in NSW jails since face-to-face visits were banned in March.
Before the pandemic, there were about 4500 face-to-face visits each week across the state’s 35 prisons.
The number of family video visits each week now exceeded that, Mr Severin said.
“The past six months have been a challenging time and our staff have adapted and embraced innovation to ensure inmates can maintain the important and valuable links with their loved ones,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Staff have connected inmates with parents abroad, reunited them with pets and even permitted one inmate to attend his daughter’s wedding via an audio-visual link.
Many inmates’ family and friends – 85 per cent of 5000 people surveyed – want the “video visits” to continue after restrictions are lifted.
“It was over six years since I saw my brother because of distance and not wanting to take my children to a correctional facility,” one survey respondent said.
“I know his mental health has improved a lot from it, and being able to show him our home made it much more personal.”
Corrections NSW will look in to the possibility of continuing video visits once face-to-face visits are allowed again.
Australian Associated Press