State to permit prison visits to resume next week

Visitation in New York’s maximum security prisons will resume on Aug. 5, with visitation in all other facilities resuming on Aug. 8.

An updated Department of Corrections and Community Supervision reopening fact sheet posted to the state agency’s website detailed the plans and procedures for reopening.

“Based on the feedback we have received from our facility superintendents, staff, unions, Inmate Liaison Committees, advocacy organizations and other state correctional systems, we have modified our previously announced temporary visitation procedures,” read the document.

According to the updated guidelines, facilities will require all visitors, staff and inmates to wear masks during visitation, limit the number of adult visitors to three per visit, restrict physical contact “except that a visitor and an incarcerated individual may engage in a short embrace at the beginning and the end of any contact visit,” and visiting will be divided into specific segments of the population to ensure that each incarcerated individual can have two weekend visits per month.

The guidelines come as other facilities, such as nursing homes, have begun to allow socially distanced visitation at their facilities.

Visitation in New York’s correctional facilities was halted in mid-March in response to the growing numbers of coronavirus cases across the state. The closures came after the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Asssociation — the union that represents many prison workers — and a number of local officials and health care providers expressed concerns that visitors to the local facilities could bring the COVID-19 virus from outside the area into the prisons, where it could spread quickly among the inmate population.

Between the Franklin, Bare Hill and Upstate correctional facilities in northern Franklin County, only one inmate case of COVID-19 has been confirmed, and the inmate has since recovered, according to DOCCS. There are 17 pending tests between the three facilities.


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