The Scottish Prisoner Advocacy and Research Collective (SPARC) state that in the context of COVID-19, ‘care of people in prison is being reconceptualised purely in terms of protection from coronavirus and health is being reconceptualised only as bare physical survival’ (SPARC Scotland, 2020). As the wider community slowly emerges from lockdown, many prisons remain in some stage of restricted regime. Outbreaks within prisons continue to force lockdowns across wings or entire estates, and the challenges that go with them remain prevalent. In this final chapter, we review the issues and impacts identified within Chapters Two to Four and explore the ways in which prisons may move beyond the pandemic – what can be learned from this experience. We note that while many restrictions had negative effects, some created positive change that should be maintained into the future. Additionally, we reflect on the challenges for staff and prison management as regimes change.
Public health modelling proved broadly correct: restricting human interaction through lockdown saved many lives in prison. The death rate is all the more remarkable when one considers the poor physical health of many prisoners. However, achieving this success came at significant social and psychological costs. Compromises were required, and while strict lockdowns could be justified when the threat posed was so extreme, other benefits accrued. We recognize that even as the risk from COVID-19 abates (at least in the developed world), there may be calls to retain some of the measures introduced during lockdown, which led to other desirable outcomes:
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