In-person contact visits resume at state-run prisons
Published 10:48 am Tuesday, March 22, 2022
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C) has begun phasing in contact visitation across its state-run prisons, according to a press release from the DPS&C.
Maintaining in person connections with loved ones is critical to a person’s success in prison. In February, the department reinstated non-contact visitation. Over the past month, declining COVID numbers and increasing vaccination rates make it now suitable to resume contact visitation. The department has approved general reopening plans for its facilities and continues to monitor the current status of COVID-19 in the public and in its prisons.
Contact visitation resumed at Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie on Monday. The schedule for visitation times is Tuesday and Wednesday (maximum custody), Thursday through Sunday (medium and minimum custody), from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.
Visitation must be scheduled in advance by contacting the prison, and all visitors must be on the prisoner’s visitation list.
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. In order to qualify for contact visitation, both the prisoner and his/her visitors age 14 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID and have proof of vaccination. Individuals (prisoners and visitors) who have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last six months, or completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last two months, or have received the COVID-19 booster, at any time, are considered fully vaccinated. Those who are not fully vaccinated may be eligible for non-contact visitation.
Visitation procedures include the following safety measures for all visitation:
- Upon entrance to the prison, all visitors will be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, which includes having their temperature checked.
- Visitors will be required to follow social distancing guidelines for the duration of the visit.
- All visitation areas and transport vehicles shall be sanitized prior to and between visits.
- Hand sanitizer shall be available in all visitation areas.
- Visitation hours, days, and duration and the number of allowed visitors vary by institution.
Contact visitation procedures include the following:
- Visitors, 14 and older, and prisoners must be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination.
- Masks are recommended for contact visitation but not required.
Non-contact visitation procedures include the following:
- Vaccination not required.
- Plexiglass barriers will separate the prisoners and their visitors.
- Masks are required until seated for the commencement of the visitation.
The DPS&C originally suspended visitation on March 12, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect staff and inmates at the state’s institutions. Visitation resumed on March 13, 2021, and when COVID-19 infections surged, the department suspended visitation again on July 26, 2021. On Oct. 18, 2021, the department reinstated visitation until a surge in COVID cases across the state forced suspension of visitation on Jan. 6, 2022. Non-contact visitation resumed on Feb. 21, 2022. The department 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.
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.
The DPS&C 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.