NDCS closing visitation/volunteer programs temporarily

NDCS closing visitation/volunteer programs temporarily

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (20-114)

 

CONTACT Laura Strimple, Chief of Staff

OFFICE 402-479-5713 | laura.strimple@nebraska.gov

 

NDCS closing visitation/volunteer programs temporarily

 

August 7, 2020 (Lincoln, Neb.) The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) will temporarily halt inmate visits in all 10 facilities, effective August 8, 2020. The suspension will last at least two weeks, after which, Director Scott R. Frakes says the agency will assess the status of COVID-19, and determine if it is safe to resume the program.

“We were proactive in shutting visitation down when the coronavirus emerged several months ago,” stated Dir. Frakes. “Now that an uptick in positive cases is occurring, it is prudent to stop the program, until we know which direction the trend is going, particularly here in Nebraska.”

Visitation started on July 15. Since then, family members have signed up online to reserve their visitation time and have been required to undergo a health screening prior to entry. The donning of masks has been mandatory and restrictions were put into place to limit the risk of transmitting COVID-19 between visitors and inmates.

“Those measures have worked well. I think people have taken a cautious approach to visiting, which is both understandable and appreciated,” said Dir. Frakes.  “We said a few weeks ago that we would reserve the right to close visitation if it became necessary. For the health of those who live and enter our facilities, this is a necessary step.”

In addition to suspending visitation, NDCS is also halting all volunteer programs, “to address another point of entry for the coronavirus to come into our facilities,” added Dir. Frakes.

To date, 10 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, all of whom have recovered. Of the 48 staff members who have been diagnosed, 33 have recovered. 

“Certainly exposure in the community has contributed to the increase among staff cases. We have been fortunate that in the majority of those instances, staff members have not had close contact with inmates,” noted Dir. Frakes.

“We will continue to monitor the situation going forward and will take steps necessary to ensure that the health and welfare of those in our custody is a top priority.”

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