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DOC re-instates visitation at state-run prisons

This week, the Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) will phase in visitation at Louisiana’s state-run prisons, beginning Saturday, March 13, at some facilities and Monday, March 15, for others. As Louisiana moves into Phase Three and the COVID-19 vaccine availability increases, the DOC continues its work with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) to maintain safe operations during the pandemic. This includes the development and implementation of reopening plans following LDH’s COVID-19 guidance. Visitation schedules and procedures will vary by prison depending on the space available to offer safe visitation.

This week, prisons have educated their inmate populations on the processes and procedures of visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. At all institutions, visitors must be on the inmate’s approved visitation list in order to be eligible to visit.

Visitation procedures include the following safety measures:

  • Visitors will be required to follow social distancing guidelines.
  • All visitation will be non contact.
  • Plexiglass barriers will separate the inmates and their visitors.
  • In addition to usual screening at the gate, visitors will be screened for temperature and asked questions concerning their health and potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • Visitors must wear protective face coverings at all times during the visit.
  • Only two visitors will be allowed per prisoner.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at each visiting area.
  • Prison staff will sanitize the visitation areas and transport vehicles between each sessions/use.
  • Visitors are not required to be vaccinated in order to visit.

The DOC suspended visitation on March 12, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect staff and inmates at the state’s institutions. The DOC created a webpage at doc.la.gov with COVID-19 information to keep relatives, loved ones, and the general public informed on the latest developments concerning the pandemic.

Visitation will be done dorm by dorm or unit by unit on a rotating bases. If someone within a dorm tests positive, or is exposed to positive cases, that dorm or unit will be placed in quarantine and visitation for that group will be postponed until they’ve been cleared by medical. Additionally, if at any point the total active cases at a prison exceeds 0.5 percent of the total population of that institution, visitation at that prison will be suspended immediately until the rate falls below 0.5 percent.

Visitation will resume on the following days with the following visitation schedules. Visitation must be scheduled in advance by contacting the prison:

Saturday, March 13

  • Allen Correctional Center — seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women at Hunt, Jetson, and Louisiana State Penitentiary — Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Raymond Laborde Correctional Center — Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, March 15

  • David Wade Correctional Center — Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Dixon Correctional Institute — seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Elayn Hunt Correctional Center — seven days a week, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Rayburn Correctional Center — seven days a week, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, March 17

  • Louisiana State Penitentiary — Wednesday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., and 1 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The DOC is currently working on plans to bring back a limited number of volunteers for faith-based programming, as well as ramping up vocational and educational programs to near pre-COVID-19 levels. In addition, plans are being worked out to resume face-to-face attorney inmate visits. Currently inmates visit with their attorneys via Zoom call and by telephone. All reopening plans will follow LDH’s COVID-19 guidelines and are subject to change as guidelines or COVID-19 prevalence at the facility or in the community change.

At this point, there is no definitive timeline on implementation of these additional measures. The DOC will announce to the media and the public any changes in regards to visitation, and will post on the Department’s COVID-19 webpage at doc.la.gov.