ODOC Cancels Visitation To Limit Spread Of COVID-19

Wednesday, September 30th 2020, 10:43 pm
By: Sylvia Corkill

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has suspended all visitations across all state-run facilities in an effort to quell the spread of COVID-19.

This is the second time visitation has been suspended across the state because of rising cases in the prisons.

Towering prison walls and razor wire are no match for the coronavirus.

“The structure of a prison facility makes social distancing impractical and very difficult,” said ODOC Communication Director Justin Wolf.

Across the state's more than 20 prisons, since the start for the pandemic, more than 3,600 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

Currently there are 647 active cases.

The rising and falling case numbers directly impacting visitation.

“Visitation is one of the ways we can help control the potential viral spread of infection within our facilities,” said Wolf.               

Three of the state's prisons are currently deemed hot spots. Meaning at least 20% of the prison's inmates tested positive within a celled housing unit or at least 15% of inmates tested positive within an open bay housing unit.

“Right now, COVID- 19 is our top priority making sure we are doing everything in our power to keep our inmates and staff safe,” said Wolf.              

The suspension of visitation is something the ODOC doesn't take lightly.

“Visitation is important to our inmates, for their emotional and overall health, it's important for their families to lay eyes on them and to keep them connected with the outside world.” said Wolf.

As of now the DOC isn't sure when visitations will resume.

“Until we can ensure safety is protected, as much as reasonably as possible, we're not going to be able to reopen visitation. But by the same token as soon as we can, we will,” said Wolf. 

To help reduce inmates' stress the ODOC is offering all inmates two free 10-minute calls each week.