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PRESS RELEASE: Department of Corrections Continues to Take Necessary Steps to Protect Health of Incarcerated

Released April 13, 2020

Contact Corrections' Joint Information Center, (360) 515-6661

Department of Corrections

TUMWATER – The Washington State Department of Corrections is planning for the limited transfer of incarcerated individuals back to the community, after weeks of planning and preparation. The goal in releasing individuals from state correctional facilities is to provide more physical distancing within the state’s correctional facilities.

Late Friday, April 10, 2020, the Washington State Supreme Court instructed the Department “to take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety” of incarcerated individuals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and submit a report to the Court on “all steps that have been taken and will be taken.”

By the statutory furlough authority granted to Stephen Sinclair, Secretary of Corrections, he will be granting emergency furloughs to those incarcerated individuals in minimum custody settings, who meet the criteria as established through careful legal advisement and statutory reviews.

Since the beginning of March, the Department has developed and implemented new protocols and directives specifically to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the Department has followed Centers for Disease Control recommendations through the implementation of screening protocols, issuance of guidelines for special population units, implementation of special procedures for transportation of the incarcerated, implementation of physical distancing protocols, ensured free soap and handwashing facilities and direction about cleaning and sanitizing.

The Department of Corrections has experienced a total of eight incarcerated individuals to test positive for COVID-19. Of the eight, one is suspected to have contracted COVID-19 while in a community medical hospital and the other seven tested positive while housed in the same housing at the Minimum Security Unit at the Monroe Correctional Complex.