OLYMPIA—The Department of Corrections takes the health and safety of our staff and incarcerated individuals very seriously. At the same time, Corrections recognize the importance of family visitation, programming and other opportunities provided to our incarcerated population per our mission of improving public safety by positively changing lives.
Consistent with DOH guidelines, Corrections is working to implement enhanced screening protocols for all employees/contract staff, incarcerated individuals and others entering DOC facilities and field offices to include taking temperatures and answering screening questionnaires.
Until the Department is able to put those protocols into place, we are taking the following actions effective March 13:
· Suspending visitation at all correctional facilities in Washington, including extended family visits (EFV). Corrections has authorized reimbursement for families scheduled for EFVs;
· Restricting access for all individuals, with the exception of employees/contract staff and legal professionals, to the Monroe Correctional Complex, Washington Corrections Center and Washington Corrections Center for Women; and
· Suspending all tours and events involving four or more outside guests at all facilities.
“The Department did not make this decision without extensive discussion,” said Secretary Steve Sinclair. “We know how important visitation and events are to our incarcerated population and their families. Leading up to this, we’d implemented increased cleaning protocols, distributed enhanced health services guidelines and encouraged the incarcerated population to take extra precautions. While we anticipate moving to enhanced screening fairly soon so we can restore visitation, we encourage friends and family to keep in contact during this time utilizing JPay, video visiting, telephone calls and mail correspondence.”
This situation is constantly evolving. Corrections will provide updates as things change.