State will resume prison visitation

(Dreamstime/TNS)

MALONE — Driven by vaccine distributions and a decline in COVID-19 positivity rates, state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision officials said prison visitations will resume beginning April 28 in maximum security facilities and all other locations May 1.

“This schedule will help ensure that incarcerated individuals with comorbidities that have chosen to receive the vaccine will be fully vaccinated when visitation resumes,” DOCCS officials said.

“Recognizing the importance of family and visitation, while being mindful of the critical need to continue protecting staff and the incarcerated population within our facilities,” he continued, “we will resume visitation under the previously announced criteria.”

Visiting rooms will be opened at half capacity in order to enforce social distancing. If possible, facilities will permit outside visiting areas when the weather permits. Physical contact will not be allowed, officials said.

Visitors, inmates and staff will all be required to wear masks during processing and the visit. Masks can be temporarily removed for processing and while eating. Masks cannot have any pictures, writings or sayings on them, DOCCS officials said.

Visitors will have to clear a screening via a questionnaire and temperature check. In facilities with hospitality centers, screening will be conducted at the entrance to the building.

Visiting will be divided into certain segments of the population — alphabetically by name or numerically by inmate numbers. This is in order to ensure that each inmate can have two weekend visits per month. Weekday visiting at maximum security facilities will remain in place, officials said.

Visits will be limited to three adult visitors and one child under the age of 5. The child will need to sit on an adult’s lap. No cross visiting is allowed, DOCCS officials said.

Tables and vending machines will be disinfected at the end of each visit. The children’s area will be off-limits for the time being, but this restriction will be periodically re-evaluated, DOCCS officials said.

Inmates in quarantine or isolation for COVID-19 cannot visit until they are determined to be recovered, but packages will be allowed in accordance with current policies, DOCCS officials said.

Regulations are subject to change and visitation could be suspended again if there is another increase in infection rate at one or more facilities. Visitation could also be suspended if a region is placed in a red or orange microcluster or hot spot zone, or if conditions change in the community, DOCCS officials said.

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