After a more than four-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is planning to resume visitation next week at New York's 52 correctional facilities.
Visitation will resume Wednesday, Aug. 5, for maximum-security prisons, including Auburn Correctional Facility, and for other prisons, including Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia, on Saturday, Aug. 8.
DOCCS will post visitation information on each facility's website by Monday, Aug. 3.
The resumption of visitation is part of DOCCS' reopening plan. The department is slowly bringing nonessential employees back to work, restarted inmate transfers and intakes from local jails, and is resuming programs for incarcerated individuals.
"The Department's plan continues many prior initiatives, but also layers in new ones, the goals of which are to safely and gradually reopen, while shielding staff, the incarcerated population and parolees, from any unreasonable risks," DOCCS states in its fact sheet.
When DOCCS restarts visitation, there will be strict guidelines in place. Visitation rooms will be limited to 50% capacity, although prisons can use designated outdoor areas for visitors. Employees, incarcerated individuals and visitors must wear face coverings during processing and the visit. There are exceptions, including temporary removal for processing and while eating snacks. There must not be any images or writing on the face coverings.
Visitors will be asked questions about any symptoms and have their temperature checked. Physical contact isn't permitted, but DOCCS said that there is an exception for an incarcerated individual and visitor to engage in "a short embrace" at the beginning and the end of a visit.
Visits will be limited to three visitors and one child under age 5. The child must sit on an adult's lap during the visit.
Incarcerated individuals who are in isolation due to a positive case or in mandatory quarantine will not be able to receive visitors until they are recovered or released from quarantine.
Each incarcerated individual will have two weekend visits per month, and weekday visits at maximum-security facilities will be permitted.
During the visit, staff will ensure that visitors maintain social distancing. A porter will be assigned to an area to disinfect tables, vending machines and other common areas.
DOCCS will resume visitation as state officials believe they prevented an outbreak from occurring in the prisons. As of Friday, there have been 605 confirmed cases among the incarcerated individuals and 1,310 employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
While a majority of the prisons reported at least one confirmed case, 24 facilities haven't had a case among the incarcerated population. Auburn and Cayuga correctional facilities haven't had a case, according to the latest data.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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