The Oregon Department of Corrections suspended visitation at all fourteen state prisons in response to COVID-19 starting Friday, March 13. They said they will review the plan in 30 days.
“All of us at the Oregon Department of Corrections value visiting and especially the connections that visiting affords to family and friends. We know these relationships reduce the risk of future criminal behavior,” said Director Colette S. Peters. “However, during this State of Emergency, it is critical we take appropriate precautions necessary to protect our employees and those in our care and custody.”
In addition to suspending visitation, they are also are limiting institution access to essential staff.
According to the Department of Correction, or DOC, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in an Oregon state prison as of March 12, 2020. However, the DOC said that they have identified 1,400 adults in custody aged 60 years or older, who are immunocompromised or who have multiple comorbid medical conditions.
People may still contact adults in custody through alternative methods like phone calls or video messaging, according to the DOC. They indicated that they are currently working with their communications services provider to find ways to reduce the cost during the suspension.
The DOC deputy director, Heidi Steward, made a statement about the institution’s response through a YouTube video published on the Oregon DOC channel.