Prison inmate wives' Leni Cormack and Katie Williams.
Prison inmate wives' Leni Cormack and Katie Williams.

Prison WAGs slam COVID visit ban

Their boyfriends and husbands have been convicted of horrendous crimes including bashing a cop and killing a man.

But despite this a group of prison WAGs are demanding the government cut their partners some slack.

They want the state to stop the "unfair" ban on face-to-face visits inside NSW jails that was put in place in March to prevent the deadly spread of coronavirus - with one partner going even further and calling for anyone sentenced to less than a year behind bars to be released.

Jailwife Leni Cormack. Picture: Facebook.
Jailwife Leni Cormack. Picture: Facebook.

Inmate wife Leni Cormack, 30, said that her man's mental health was suffering from not being able to see his family in the flesh and video calls being facilitated by Corrective Services NSW were not enough.

Leni and Jason Cormac during a weekly video call. Picture: Supplied/Leni Cormack.
Leni and Jason Cormac during a weekly video call. Picture: Supplied/Leni Cormack.

Inmate wife Leni Cormack, 30, said that her man's mental health was suffering from not being able to see his family in the flesh and video calls being facilitated by Corrective Services NSW were not enough.

"Yes, they broke the law but they weren't sentenced to time without family contact and support," she told The Daily Telegraph.

Her husband Jason Cormack was sentenced to almost five years behind bars in May 2018, for brutally assaulting a cop who was conducting a check at their property after car burnouts were reported.

The 55-year-old Lake Illawarra Senior Constable received a fractured eye and jaw in the attack.

 

Prison inmate wives' Leni Cormack and Katie Williams who are fighting for NSW prisons to allow face-to-face contact after it was suspended in March. Picture: Brett Costello
Prison inmate wives' Leni Cormack and Katie Williams who are fighting for NSW prisons to allow face-to-face contact after it was suspended in March. Picture: Brett Costello

Ms Cormack said her husband pleaded guilty and was now doing his time at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.

"Yes, they broke the law but they weren't sentenced to time without family contact and support," she said.

"It's stripping inmates of family support, which is detrimental to both the prisoner and their family.

"Not reinstating visits during an already hard time for all during COVID is going to push the recovery back for those who are actually using the time to better themselves like my husband.

Tiffany and her husband Josh on their wedding day before he was jailed for manslaughter. Picture: Supplied.
Tiffany and her husband Josh on their wedding day before he was jailed for manslaughter. Picture: Supplied.

"He has completed courses inside the facility and is using this time as an opportunity to mature.

"I am worried the longer these men and women aren't receiving contact visits the more their rehabilitation goes backwards. Their passion and drive will be lost."

The Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey where Jason is serving his sentence. Picture: Nathan Edwards
The Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey where Jason is serving his sentence. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Wagga mother Tiffany, 21, who does not want her last name used, said her husband Josh, 23, has not yet been able to meet his newborn daughter after he was jailed for manslaughter in February.

Court documents state Josh was involved in a street race travelling at more than 140km/h in a 50km/h zone before his Holden Commodore went on to the wrong side of the road and smashed into a ute, killing a 53-year-old father.

Katie Williams and her partner Travis Henson. Picture: Supplied/Kristy Williams
Katie Williams and her partner Travis Henson. Picture: Supplied/Kristy Williams

"It was one silly mistake. He really regrets it. He would do anything to take it back," Tiffany said.

Tiffany said video calling her husband at Junee Correctional Centre, his home for at least seven years, was not the same as going to see him in person.

She said it was "unfair" to ban visits as guards could just as easily bring COVID in.

"My two-year-old son won't sit still for video visits. When we're face-to-face at least they can play games," she said of the weekly video chats that started in June.

"The guards can just as easily take COVID in. It's so unfair."

Leni and her husband Jason Cormack.
Leni and her husband Jason Cormack.

Wollongong inmate wife Katie Williams said prisoners should be released if they had 12 months or less on their sentence.

"It would free up prisons too and make more room in the jails for social distancing to be implemented," Ms Williams said.

Her partner Travis Hensen will be eligible for parole in just over two years after he held up a medical centre in Dapto to steal methadone and cash.

A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said they had facilitated more than 60,000 video visits between inmates and their families since March.

Josh was jailed for manslaughter when Tiffany was pregnant with their daughter. Picture: Supplied
Josh was jailed for manslaughter when Tiffany was pregnant with their daughter. Picture: Supplied

"The safety of all staff and inmates is our number one priority, and it will remain at the forefront of our decision-making processes while COVID-19 continues to pose a risk," the spokeswoman said.

"We recognise that contact visits are important to inmates and their loved ones and have worked hard to increase inmates' contact with families via phone and video visits. To date, the feedback from inmates about video visits has been overwhelmingly positive.

"When it's considered safe to do so, CSNSW will reinstate face-to-face visits and is looking at how they can be reintroduced safely, while maintaining social distance."


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