PENNSYLVANIA — State prisons in Pennsylvania have suspended all in-person visits to inmates, citing decreased staff and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 surge.
The move will be in place at least from Jan. 27 to Feb. 28, according to an order from state officials, and will ensure that the most crucial positions to the operation of prisons remain staffed.
“Staffing levels have been significantly impacted throughout the winter months by the same uptick in COVID-19 cases that our communities are experiencing,” Acting Secretary of corrections George Little said in a statement. “Even when symptoms are mild, quarantine requirements for COVID-positive staff and close contacts of those who have tested positive have led to an increased reliance on voluntary and mandated overtime that is not sustainable.”
Free video visits will be more widely available in the wake of the suspension, and cable television will be provided for free for all of February. “We recognize the stress a suspension of in-person visitation may place on incarcerated individuals and their loved ones, and we will work to mitigate those issues,” Little added, noting that it is a "temporary measure."
Officials noted that the move would not impact other key aspects of inmate life, like recreation, education, or regular access to other programming.
However, the execution of some of these things may be modified to promote social distancing.
Individuals who scheduled in-person visits for Jan. 27 or after will receive a cancellation notice in their email.
Once visiting resumes, those 12 and older will need to provide a proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to visit prisons.