Victorian criminals awaiting sentencing could have reduced prison time because of anxiety about their chances of catching coronavirus.
Prisons aren't yet in lockdown, but there is concern among prisoners that social distancing requirements aren't being fully enforced.
Lawyers are also arguing that prison is becoming even more onerous for criminals than before the virus outbreak.
"There is less opportunity for work, courses and activities," barrister David Hallowes told a Supreme Court pre-sentence hearing for Wayne Kevin Beattie on Thursday.
Beattie is awaiting sentence for the manslaughter of his childhood friend Grant Shannon at their Melbourne home in February 2018.
Mr Shannon had become upset after Beattie told him he had to move out of the house and during an argument, Beattie stabbed Mr Shannon in the hand before thrusting again toward his chest or stomach.
The knife struck Mr Shannon in the groin, causing fatal injuries.
Beattie has been working in the laundry at the Metropolitan Remand Centre in central Melbourne, and is able to leave his cell as an essential worker.
But time outside his cell otherwise has been reduced as authorities try to limit contact.
Mr Hallowes said Beattie was anxious about the risk of infection and the mortality rate for himself in prison, as well as for his mother.
He said despite best efforts it's likely coronavirus will enter Victoria's prison system and would likely spread rapidly.
But he said a document given to the court by Victoria's Justice Department showed "no firm procedure" is in place for what happens if there is an outbreak of coronavirus in the prison system.
He said infected prisoners would be hospitalised if required, otherwise they would remain in their cells.
There appeared to be "no firm procedure" in place for what does happen if a prisoner tested positive, he said, including no detail around the capacity to test other prisoners.
Justice Lex Lasry, who joined lawyers in appearing in court by videolink on Thursday, will sentence Beattie at a later date.
Australian Associated Press