Pa. Department of Corrections suspends in-person visitation due to COVID-19

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Monday that the department is suspending in-person visitation at all state correctional institutions.

In-person visitation will be suspended from Jan. 27 through Feb. 28, 2022 due to a surge of COVID-19 cases. 

"Staffing levels have been significantly impacted throughout the winter months by the same uptick in COVID-19 cases that our communities are experiencing," said Acting Secretary Little. "Even when symptoms are mild, quarantine requirements for COVID-positive staff and close contacts of those who have tested positive have led to an increased reliance on voluntary and mandated overtime that is not sustainable."

Officials say they are working to better allocate staff in the meantime and that the availability of no-cost video visits will be increased.

The DOC will also be providing cable television to the incarcerated population at no charge for the month of February. 

"We recognize the stress a suspension of in-person visitation may place on incarcerated individuals and their loved ones, and we will work to mitigate those issues," said Acting Secretary Little. "This is a temporary measure to ensure critical positions in our facilities remain staffed."

Acting Corrections Secretary George Little said quarantine requirements have increasingly required voluntary and mandatory overtime he considers unsustainable.

The prison system implemented a statewide quarantine in March 2020, and in-person visits began to resume in May 2021.

The Corrections Department said recreational, educational and programming opportunities won't be affected by the visitation policy but could be modified at individual prisons.

There have been more than 14,000 inmate COVID-19 cases and 155 deaths within the system that now houses about 36,000 prisoners. About 90% of inmates are fully vaccinated.

Among state prison staff, barely half are fully vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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