Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, Allan Hogarth, has said that elderly prisoners and those with underlying medical conditions should “immediately” be considered for release “if they do not pose a threat to themselves or society”. The government has said (25 March) that it is “looking carefully” at releasing some prisoners.
As of March 2019 (the latest official figures), about 25% of prisoners were in jail on “violence against the person” counts, large or sometimes small, and about 15% on sex-offences counts. Theft and drug counts are the biggest other categories. Something like 60% of prisoners — or more! — could be released with risk at most only to property, not to life (and it would then be possible to have safe conditions for the remainder).
Keeping prisoners in overcrowded and squalid jails in the midst of the epidemic is sentencing them to a high risk of death. The courts never sentenced them to that. Release them now, before the epidemic gets into the jails!