Criminal Sanctions Agency prepared to prevent the spread of coronavirus – temporary restrictions on visits and activities under consideration

Published 13.3.2020

The Criminal Sanctions Agency has established a preparedness team in the Central Administration in order to monitor and coordinate the measures caused by the coronavirus. The team works in close cooperation with the Prisoners' Health Care Unit, which operates under the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and is responsible for monitoring the health of prisoners.

The Central Administration has advised the directors of the units to consider, as far as possible, various measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In particular, they should consider whether or not to arrange all granted visits and put into practice or grant the prisoners’ permissions under the Imprisonment Act, such as prison leaves, study permissions, and permissions for civilian work. The management of the units makes the decisions concerning their unit and the individuals there.

The police and lawyers can still visit the prisons. Transfers from one prison to another are only carried out when they are necessary. In open prisons, restrictions on the movement of groups of prisoners to work outside the prison are also considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Criminal Sanctions Agency recommends the option that prisoners could communicate with people close to them via Skype meetings and telephone calls.

The units of the Criminal Sanctions Agency follow their own contingency plans and gradually prepare for focusing their work so that that it is possible to carry out the necessary official duties. The preparedness team monitors the situation continuously and is ready to change its instructions.

With regard to the instructions concerning the employees, the Criminal Sanctions Agency follows the recommendations of the Government. Travels abroad have been cancelled and employees who have been abroad follow the instructions concerning the quarantine period. Opportunities to work remotely have been increased if the duties allow it. In addition, the Training Institute for Prison and Probation Services cancels all major training events this spring.

– We are taking measures for the safety of our own staff, the community sanctions clients, and the prisoners because the whole situation is exceptional. The spread of the infections would cause a massive amount of sick leaves, which would lead to difficulties in managing the supervision and other activities of the units. Moreover, many of the clients of the Criminal Sanctions Agency are in high-risk groups. The occupancy rates in our prisons are already high. The risk of exposure increases when a large number of prisoners are in the same area, says Arto Kujala, Director General of the Criminal Sanctions Agency.

Further information:
Criminal Sanctions Agency
Ari Juuti, Director of Security, chair of the preparedness team
ari.juuti(at)om.fi
+358 29 56 88456