Louisiana restarting visits at state prisons after a year
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A year after suspending visits at Louisiana’s prisons because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state announced Thursday it will let family and friends begin seeing inmates in-person again.
The Department of Corrections said it will phase in visitation, starting Saturday at some facilities, with schedules varying by prison depending on the space available. The move comes as Gov. John Bel Edwards has loosened his COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, churches and events.
At all prisons, people must be on the inmate’s approved list to be eligible to visit, the corrections department said. Visitors will have to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a face covering, get a temperature screening and won’t be able to have contact with the inmate. Plexiglass barriers will separate the inmate and visitor, the agency said. Visits must be scheduled in advance, and they’ll be handled on a rotating schedule by dorm or unit.
And positive tests for COVID-19, however, could disrupt visitation for individual dorms or an entire prison, the agency warned.
The Department of Corrections suspended in-person visitation at state prisons in March 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The new visitation rules don’t yet cover lawyers seeking to see their clients. The department said it’s working on plans to resume face-to-face visits with attorneys. In the meantime, inmates have been speaking with their attorneys via Zoom or telephone.