State Prison Visitor, Tour, Volunteer Programs Halted By Coronavirus Rules

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The Nebraska Dept of Correctional Services is suspending inmate visits indefinitely at all 10 of its facilities amid concerns about the coronavirus. Tours have also been suspended and volunteers will not be permitted entry to NDCS facilities. Attorneys will be screened for the virus when they arrive for meetings with clients..

Corrections Director Scott Frakes calls this “the right time for limiting the spread of the illness across the 10 facilities because there have been no confirmed cases yet of the virus or COVID-19, the disease it causes, among staff or inmates at any of the facilities and he hopes to reduce the risk of exposure for as long as possible.

Frakes says there are prisoners and staff who are at higher risk for infection due to age and a variety of health considerations, so those individuals are a primary concern, but he also says the prison system wants to do everything possible prevent any cases that do develop behind bars from making their way out into the community.

The corrections department is currently looking into what video technology options may be available for allowing inmates to connect with family members, friends, attorneys, and others. Frakes says most inmates have a tablet that allows them to make phone calls from their rooms, so officials are going to get “as creative as possible to maintain those pro-social family ties while this situation is ongoing.”

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