The Return of In-Person Visitation
May 19, 2021
(Tim Kelly, Communications Office)
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit in March 2020, visitation was closed to loved ones of incarcerated individuals. After months of planning, Correctional Industries in partnership with Health Services, designed, created and installed a partition in all correctional facility visitation indoor areas to create an effective COVID-19 barrier. Through Safe Start Corrections (pdf), visitation is designed as no-contact, it allows incarcerated individuals and their loved ones to visit in person.
“The state of Washington, is doing its part and not only doing its part but really, truly cares about the families of the incarcerated here,” said James Aliff, General Manager of Correctional Industries Furniture Factory at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, who helped with the design and implementation of the new structure for visit rooms.
Visits will be scheduled by cohort, an outbreak mitigation strategy where incarcerated individuals are grouped together based on assigned living unit and assigned programs. After utilizing the new online visitation scheduling tool, all visitors must pass an in-person COVID-19 screening to include answering screen questions and have their temperature checked. Stations will be sanitized in between each visit session.
“A positive way to reintegrate people back into the society is a support system on the outside. If you go the support system, visitors, then hopefully you’ll have a successful transition back into the community,” said Security Specialist Mitchell Bolden.
Having visitation return helps the department to achieve its value of promoting respectful and inclusive interactions, and respecting, valuing and listening to the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of its stakeholders. The Department of Corrections continues to evaluate COVID-19 protocols in an effort to return to contact visiting when it is safe to do so.