Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel announced that in-person visitation will be phased in at select DOC facilities in the coming days, with remaining facilities to follow. On-site visits were suspended on March 13, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will begin opening state prisons to visitors in phases, based on each facility’s rate of vaccination, number of active infections, and results from tests that detect levels of the coronavirus in wastewater. State Correctional Institution (SCI) Laurel Highlands will be the first to welcome visitors starting on May 22nd, followed by SCI Waymart on the 27th, SCI Muncy on the 30th, and SCI Cambridge Springs on the 31st. Quehanna Boot Camp will open for visits on June 3rd.
Safeguards will be in place to protect against transmission of the coronavirus. Visitors will be screened for COVID-19, required to wear disposable masks provided by the prison and will have to physically distance from the incarcerated person they are visiting. Each incarcerated person will be limited to three visits per month, but with approximately only a dozen slots available per day, we expect visits to book quickly. Additional information on visiting rules and scheduling visits is available on the DOC’s website.
To comply with ongoing COVID-19 mitigation requirements, visits must now be scheduled online at least three days in advance. Secretary Wetzel stressed that initial demand will be high, and available timeslots will be limited. No-cost video visits remain an option for people to connect with incarcerated loved ones. The Pennsylvania DOC has facilitated 361,000 video visits between incarcerated individuals and their families and friends since March 2020.
Information on scheduling an in-person or video visit and the reopening of DOC facilities is available at cor.pa.gov.