A Message from the Secretary
Monday, June 7, 2021
Friends and Colleagues,
I am pleased to announce the Wisconsin Department of Corrections will begin the transition back to normal activities, including in-person visitation for persons in our care and their loved ones, starting July 6. With rates of vaccination going up in our facilities and the community, and a sustained downward trend in COVID-19 cases throughout Wisconsin, we, in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, feel it's safe for those in our care and their loved ones to once again enjoy each other's company face-to-face with the proper precautions in place.
While we want to return to as close to the pre-pandemic normal as possible, it will be necessary to take safety precautions and implement COVID-19 preventative measures to ensure the continued health and safety of staff, persons in our care and those in the community. Some of the precautions that will be in place include physical distancing, additional cleaning protocols in visitation areas and the use of masks by staff, persons in our care and visitors age two and older, regardless of vaccination status. Vaccination is NOT required to visit in person with your friend or loved one in our care. However, if you are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, I strongly encourage you to receive the vaccine to protect yourself and those around you.
We hope preventative measures and increasing rates of vaccination will prevent future outbreaks within our facilities and the community. However, if COVID-19 cases in a specific facility or surrounding community begin to rise, face-to-face visitation may be temporarily suspended at that facility. Several factors, including the opinion of health experts at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, will be considered when making these difficult decisions.
I want to emphasize that as a result of DOC's COVID-19 safety precautions, the capacity in visitation areas has decreased. We are anticipating high demand for in-person visits, which is why we will continue to offer virtual visits as well as the two free phones calls per week that have been available since we suspended visitation last spring. When possible, institutions will attempt to honor up to two face-to-face visiting periods per week for the persons in our care.
People can start scheduling in-person visits with persons in our care at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 16. Visits need to be scheduled at least two business days in advance by calling or emailing the facility where you will visit your friend or loved one. The number of visits each person in our care is able to schedule each week may vary by institution to account for individual site needs. Please visit the Resuming In-Person Visitation page on the DOC's website for details about how to schedule an in-person or video visit as well as a full list of safety precautions and visitation guidance.
I understand that being able to see loved ones in person after such a long time will be an emotional experience for many, but others may not yet feel safe enough to travel for in-person visitation. We will provide one free video visit a week for persons in our care so that everyone has the opportunity to visit with their loved ones. No matter how you choose to visit your loved one, your involvement and support is critical for their rehabilitation.
I wish you good health as we work towards the “new normal".
Kevin A. Carr
Wisconsin Department of Corrections Secretary
For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 including testing numbers, prevention and additional resources, visit the Department of Health Services website. To learn more about the state's response, visit the Wisconsin COVID-19 Coronavirus Information page.