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Department of Corrections extends visit suspension

Enhanced screening of employees through April 10

HARRISBURG –As a result of continued mitigation measures called for by Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, the Department of Corrections (DOC) is extending inmate visitation suspension through April 10.

“Currently, we have no positive cases of COVID-19 in our state prison inmate population, and we are working to delay the virus entering our system,” Wetzel said. “We believe that limiting who enters our prisons has been a good protocol to put in place.”

The DOC initially suspended all visits and began enhanced screenings at all of its prisons on March 13. To offset the lack of visits for inmates, DOC officials implemented video visitation and are providing inmates with additional free phone calls and emails.

“We are closely monitoring our entire system and individual facilities daily,” Wetzel said. “We are taking necessary steps to protect our employees and our inmates,” Wetzel said. “Our dedicated team of 16,000 men and women began working toward mitigating this virus’ impact on our system several months ago, and during these difficult times, these employees have continued to report to work to ensure public safety.”

Wetzel said that employees are working long hours, just like the first responders out in the community. “I am grateful for their commitment to this agency, to each other and to their communities,” he said.

Steps taken by DOC employees to mitigate COVID-19:

–Suspended all visits, while increasing phone calls, emails and implementing video visitation

–Suspended entry of non-critical individuals

–Issued personal protective equipment, including masks, to staff and inmates

–Enhanced employee screening

–Provided free bars of anti-bacterial soap to inmates

–Increased availability of hand sanitizers throughout facilities and offices

–Increased cleaning frequency throughout facilities and offices

–Directed non-essential staff to work from home

–Suspended large gatherings of inmates and incorporated social distancing into daily operations in work crews, gyms, transports, receptions, dining halls, exercise yards and treatment and religious programs. Religious services are held, but are shown on the inmate TV channel.

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