Visitations to begin again at Delaware correctional facilities

DELAWARE – The Delaware Department of Correction will be re-opening inmate visitation Tuesday, September 1st. The visitations will have new restrictions.

Visits are restricted to one adult 18 years or older at a time per inmate. Out of state visitors are not permitted at the time being. Visitors must get screened for COVID-19 and will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about if they’ve been exposed. Visitors must also complete and sign a disclaimer form before the visit stating they have not tested positive for COVID-19, have no symptoms, and have not had direct contact with someone who has tested positive or is in quarantine. Those whose temperature registers above 100 degrees or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be asked to leave.

Visitors and inmates will be provided masks by the DOC for visits in order to prevent contraband from being brought into facilities. “There’s a very real threat of contraband coming into the facility being hidden in a mask – or an inmate hiding something in their mask that they would then try to give to a visitor,” said Delaware DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis.

DeMatteis says they wanted to restart visitations because they feel they have the spread of COVID-19 at their facilities under control. “We’re confident that we have the situation under control and we’re confident that the community spread has continued to decline. Remember, that’s what we’re really concerned about. We’re concerned about people unknowingly – probably in most cases – coming into one of our facilities and then spreading the virus,” said DeMatteis.

The commissioner says that while in person visitations have been suspended, inmates have been getting free phone and video calls. “It’s important for inmates to be able to have that contact with their family members. We’ve certainly made an effort to keep that contact going by free phone calls and video visitation where it’s available,” said DeMatteis.

DeMatties tells 47ABC that the DOC will constantly re-examine how the visitations are going. The DOC will stop visitations again if the threat of COVID-19 becomes a big enough issue. “We will constantly revisit this. If we feel there is an increased threat because of environmental factors and a community spread because of somebody coming in for visitation, we won’t hesitate to suspend it again,” said DeMatteis.

Categories: Coronavirus, Delaware, Local News