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Advocates rally outside Burnaby Youth Detention Centre

Citynews 1130 Vancouver
(Photo submitted by Meenakshi Mannoe)

Advocates rallied for two hours Sunday as part of the 'caravans for justice' campaign

Groups advocating for prisoners say COVID-19 is increasing health risks for those being confined

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — Prison justice advocates were honking horns, and making noise outside the Burnaby Youth Detention Centre Sunday afternoon to protest incarceration amidst COVID-19.

They say detention centres are not safe or healthy for anyone, particularly the pandemic.

Meenaskshi Mannoe, with the Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee says now is the time to look into decarceration as an option as it has become more urgent due to the current health crisis.

“There are ways to fund community-based justice programs and that might be a better tool for rehabilitation and care,” said Mannoe.

Advocates started “caravans for justice” at the start of the pandemic in March. This is the tenth solidarity action. “A number of organizers living in and around the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland came together to bring attention to the condition of prisoners,” said Mannoe.

In 2016, all inmates at the Victoria Youth Custody Centre were moved to the Burnaby facility after it closed. Advocates say, social distancing at the facility is very difficult due to overcrowding.

The Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee protested outside the Mission Institution in May.

The federal prison was the site of one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in B.C. The outbreak was declared over last month. Over 100 people had contracted the virus including inmates, corrections officers, and employees.