WHEN the outbreak of Covid-19 seemed inevitable in early March, human rights advocates appealed to authorities to decongest jails and prisons. The reason was obvious: these facilities were not equipped to respond to a pandemic and did not have enough doctors. Moreover, they were filled beyond capacity, making social distancing among detainees or inmates impossible. 

Protecting jails and prisons from the outbreak, human rights advocates argued, was a matter of life and death not only for the detainees but for the public as well. A lockdown to prevent Covid-19 from breaching prison walls was not sustainable, they pointed out, as staff could bring the virus from outside to their workplaces.

The warnings fell on deaf ears until infections began to sprout mid-April.

Here’s a timeline of events.

Aie Balagtas See is a freelance journalist working on human rights issues. Follow her on Twitter (@AieBalagtasSee) or email her at aie.bsee@gmail.com for comments.

Alexandra Paredes is a graphic designer and artist. Her design practice spans social impact, corporate collaterals, teaching, writing, and commissioned art. Find her online at alexandraparedes.com.

File photograph by Bernard Testa.