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Delaware suspends in-person visits at prisons again

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) is suspending in-person visitation in state prisons again.

The order goes into effect Thursday at all Level V prisons and Level IV work release and violation of probation facilities.

DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis cites an uptick of COVID-19 cases in Delaware and says she wants to see some of those metrics go down before allowing visitation to resume.

“The number of new cases, the number of people testing positive, the number of hospitalizations,” said DeMatteis. “It’s smart for us to understand if it’s in our communities there’s a risk of it entering our prisons unknowingly.” 

DeMatteis adds virtual visitation and phone calls are available to inmates. 

This is the second time the state has suspended visitation throughout all prison facilities since the start of the pandemic. The first time was in response to a July outbreak of nearly 400 cases between two state prisons.  

DeMatteis says she is now preemptively stopping visitation to try to avoid another outbreak in a state facility. She says it’s what the inmates want.

“It’s really the inmates who are coming to us saying, ‘we’re comfortable with the video visitations. We don’t want this coming into the facility,’” said DeMatteis. “So they understand that a very real risk of COVID entering the facility would be a person unknowingly coming for visitation and bringing it into the facility.”  

DeMatteis says there are currently two isolated active COVID-19 cases among the inmate population. To date 549 Delaware inmates have recovered from the virus and 11 have died from it, according to the DOC.

DeMatteis says a decision on whether or not to suspend work release programs will be made in the coming days.

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