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Alabama to resume prison visitations with restrictions

Alabama is the last state to resume prison visitations, according to The Marshall Project and statements from Mississippi and Virginia.


The Alabama Department of Corrections is to resume visitations in state prisons, with some restrictions, after suspending visitations for almost two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Alabama will be the last state to resume in-person visitations, according to tracking by The Marshall Project and more recent announcements from the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Virginia Department of Corrections

“As COVID-19 still poses a significant risk in a correctional environment, several safety protocols and restrictions (see attached) will be in place and must be adhered to as we expand these activities statewide. This information has been communicated to ADOC staff and the inmate population directly,” ADOC said in a statement 

Among the restrictions will be that visits will be limited to one hour, social distancing and mask-requiring will be required and only two visitors, children included will be allowed at a time, according to ADOC’s statement

APR on Nov. 9 asked ADOC about The Marshall Project’s tracking and the announcements from the other two states that put Alabama as the last at the time to still be suspending visitations. ADOC in response said the department had taken a methodical approach to reopening its system, and that some states that had restarted visitations had to close them back down again after COVID outbreaks. 

ADOC also noted between Oct. 9 and Oct. 11 the department began a pilot program to restart in-person visitations and work release programs at the Birmingham Women’s Community-Based Facility, the Elba Community-Based Facility and Community Work Center and the North Alabama Community-Based Facility and Community Work Center. 

“It is important to note that the ADOC may pause visitation or job assignments at any given facility upon any extenuating circumstances to include: an increase in community infection rates with warning from the ADPH; an increase in inmate infection rates at a given facility; and, an increase in staff infection rates at a given facility,” ADOC said in its latest statement on restarting visitations.

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After a rise in COVID-19 cases at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore, the Alabama Department of Corrections tested all asymptomatic incarcerated men there earlier in November, and 75 tested positive for the virus

Alabama prisons in June were the fifth-deadliest per capita in the nation when it came to prisoners dying from COVID, according to The Marshall Project and The Associated Press. 

ADOC was slow to begin making COVID-19 vaccines available for incarcerated people. The department began vaccinating some prisoners on March 31, when, by that time, incarcerated people had been eligible for vaccinations for 51 days under the Alabama Department of Public Health’s guidelines. 

There have been 69 COVID deaths and 2,203 confirmed COVID cases among incarcerated people in Alabama prisons, according to ADOC’s data.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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