- Massachusetts Department of Correction
Media Contact for Personal Visits Resume at Minimum and Pre-Release Facilities in Line with Public Health Guidance
Jason Dobson, Deputy Director of Communications
MILFORD- — In-person visitation has resumed at four Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) facilities, and more are expected to follow suit as health and security precautions allow, officials said today.
The DOC implemented modified operations in November 2020 to protect the health and safety of inmates and staff from the transmission and spread of COVID-19, including the temporary suspension of general visitation at DOC facilities. To keep inmates connected with families and loved ones, the DOC rolled out video visitation department-wide and offered four free video visits to each inmate. On Saturday, May 1,general visitation resumed at Boston Pre-Release Center in Roslindale, Old Colony Correctional Center Minimum Unit in Bridgewater, and Northeastern Correctional Center in West Concord with proper health and safety precautions. Inmates at Pondville Correctional Center in Norfolk began receiving visitors Monday. These facilities are all classified as minimum-security and/or pre-release facilities.
The phased resumption of visitation will be specific to each individual facility and is contingent upon testing data and positivity rates within that facility and the broader community.
The change reflects an effort to balance the benefits of visitation with the risk that COVID-19 exposure, introduction, and transmission pose to incarcerated populations. To minimize that possibility, visits are conducted in designated outdoor areas. Vaccination of visitors will not be required; however, visitors will be asked to complete an entrance form identifying potential COVID exposure factors consistent with CDC guidelines and will have their temperatures taken prior to entry into the facility. Visitors must utilize hand sanitizer before and after the visiting period, and face coverings must be worn at all times by both visitors and inmates. Visits will be conducted with social distancing dividers between the visitor and inmate; no physical contact will be allowed during the visit, and all individuals must remain in their assigned areas to maintain social distancing.
As specific facilities resume general visitation, visitors may call those respective facilities to schedule a visit and obtain additional information regarding visitation guidelines. Personal visits are limited during this phase to one visit per inmate per week, with up to two visitors at a time, for one hour in duration, and must be scheduled 24 hours in advance; attorney visits remain ongoing and unaffected by the change.
Enhanced health and safety protocols are already in place at all DOC facilities and include visitation areas. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is available, high-touch areas are sanitized between each visit and at the completion of the visiting period, and restrooms with soap and running water are fully accessible.
Although the DOC currently has no active COVID-19 cases, testing and screening continues throughout the agency. All facilities have designated spaces for quarantine if necessary. The DOC has administered over 15,000 COVID vaccine doses to inmates and staff and continues to relax modified operations and increase opportunities for out of cell activities as appropriate, consistent with public health guidelines. The Department remains focused on maintaining the safety and security of its population, its staff, and the public.