December 15, 2020 (Lincoln, Neb.) – The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) will relaunch the inmate visitation program at five facilities starting December 23. Visits will be scheduled and approved in advance and will be carried out under specific guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“The guidelines are those that were instituted this summer, when the agency resumed visitation after the initial onset of the coronavirus,” said NDCS Director Scott Frakes. “Family members and friends will be required to register online for a timeslot in which to visit. They will also be required to wear masks, socially distance during the visit, and will be screened upon entry into each building.”
Visitation will be available at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP), Diagnostic and Evaluation Center (DEC), Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility (NCYF), Work Ethic Camp (WEC), and the Community Correctional Center-Lincoln (CCC-L). Currently, visitation is only being permitted inside facilities without active cases of COVID-19.
“Some of those facilities are housing inmates in medical isolation or quarantine, but they are either individuals who were moved from other facilities or they are on a 14-day quarantine status because they are new admissions,” explained Frakes. “Those facilities do not have any individuals in the regular population who have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Frakes said that, should there be an uptick in COVID-19 cases within those facilities, either among inmates or staff members, then the status of visits would be re-evaluated.
“Each of those facilities have previously managed outbreaks, and with the extra precautions in place, we feel that this is an opportunity to permit visiting in a safe environment. Admittedly, the timing is good, given the holiday season. We are fortunate to make this happen for a significant portion of our inmate population.”
Frakes stressed that the ability to maintain visitation would largely depend on everyone continuing the behaviors found to keep the virus at bay including wearing of masks, social distancing, disinfecting common spaces and following universal health precautions.
“Given that, we could potentially reach a place to reopen visitation at other facilities as well.”
Starting Wednesday, Dec. 16, visitors will be able to submit a request to the facility they wish to visit on the NDCS website. Forms should be completed at least seven days in advance of the visit to allow time for processing.
“Again, visitation is currently limited to those five facilities. Requests submitted for other facilities will not be processed,” said Frakes. “Anyone scheduling a visit will want to check the status prior to arrival. Given the rapid changes brought by this virus, we must be able to respond immediately in order to maintain the health of staff members, inmates, and of course, visitors.”
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