We’ve all written articles these days saying that, when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus crisis, health comes before everything else. Health comes before the economy. This has led to a highly unusual state of affairs, in which we accept all manner of irregularities, numerous limitations on our freedoms, which wouldn’t be acceptable in the least if the question of health didn’t exist to justify them. But this idea, the notion that health comes first, seems to carry an exception.
There is one thing that comes before health and that is retribution. For health reasons, to ensure prisons aren’t too crowded —a situation which would pose significant health risks—, the Catalan government has asked its prison governors to consider the possibility of allowing a significant number of inmates to spend the confinement period in their own homes. Many of them are doing just that.
However, a small number of inmates held in Catalan prison facilities are the political prisoners who were convicted following the 2017 independence bid. Nobody has batted an eyelid about the rest. But the Spanish Supreme Court has already pointed a finger at the Prison Boards concerned and warned them that they will be charged with perverting the course of justice if these particular inmates are allowed to stay at home during the lockdown. Health comes before the economy. But retribution comes before health.