Department of Corrections extends visit suspension and enhances employee screening to combat COVID-19

Local News

The Department of Corrections extends the visit suspension and enhances screening process for all employees through April 10th.

As a result of the continued mitigation measures called for by Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health and Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, the Department of corrections is extending inmate visitation suspension through April 10th.

There is currently no positive cases of COVID-19 in the state prison inmate population and work is being done to delay the virus from entering the system.

The DOC initially suspended all visits and began enhancing screenings at all of it’s prisons on March 13th.

In order to offset the lack of visits for the inmates, DOC officials have implemented video visitation and are providing inmates with additional free phone calls and emails while being closely monitored.

The dedicated team of 16,00 men and women began working towards mitigating the virus impact on the system months ago, and during the difficult times employees have continued to report to work to ensure public safety.

Here are a few example of steps currently being taken by DOC employees to mitigate COVID-19:

As of now all visits are suspended, however phone calls will be increased along with emails and the implementation of video visitation.

There is now a suspended entry of non-critical individuals. Staff and inmates will be issued personal protective equipment including masks. There will also be enhanced employee screening.

Inmates are now being provided free bars of anti-bacterial soap. There will also be an increased availability of hand sanitizers through out facilities and offices.

Any non-essential staff members are now asked to work from home instead of the facility. Updated information will be provided to employees daily.

Large gatherings of inmates are now suspended. Social distancing will be incorporated into daily operations into work crews, gyms, transports, receptions, dining halls, exercise yards as well as treatment and religious programs.

Religious services will be held but are shown on the inmate TV channel.

Inmates will still be able to receive books without going to the library through modified library operations.

The DOC has closed all of it’s barber shops and cosmetology shops. It will also be implementing a plan for in-cell education.

All outside inmate work crews have been suspended for the time being.

Inmates will be informed through town hall meetings through information on an inmate TV channel while keeping social distancing in mind at all times.

There will now be an eliminated inmate co-pay for flu related illness assessments. Medical and pharmaceutical supplies will be increased to treat inmates.

For a complete list of the steps being taken by the DOC to combat COVID-19, click here.

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Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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