Resuming In-Person Visitation
In-person visitations will resume on July 6, 2021
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) made the decision to resume in-person visitation at DOC facilities after careful consideration and review of the updated CDC guidelines, and in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS). Wisconsin is seeing a real and sustained downward trend in COVID-19 cases across the state that has been mirrored inside DOC facilities. In addition, COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to increase among persons in DOC care and the state's general population. Given these facts, DOC has decided, in conjunction with the WI DHS, that it is safe to resume normal operations with the proper precautions.
Factors considered in the decision to resume in-person visitation include, but are not limited to:
- The rate of vaccination for persons in our care
- Outbreak status at DOC facilities
- DHS consultation and guidance
- Facility design and ability to isolate/quarantine
- Community disease activity as observed on the WI DHS COVID-19 Activity Page.
DOC will continue to offer on-site video visitations only at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF). Visiting guidelines may vary slightly by facility, based on individual institutional concerns.
If COVID-19 cases in a specific DOC facility or surrounding community begin to rise during this transition period, or if other, unforeseen circumstances arise, face-to-face visitation may be suspended. DOC will work with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in determining if face-to-face visitation needs to be suspended at a DOC facility.
DOC facilities are putting plans in place that promote safe face-to-face visitation, including screenings of visitors and incorporating any changes to allow appropriate physical distancing in visitation areas.
Scheduling a Visit
People can begin to schedule in-person visits at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 16. Visitors are asked to schedule their in-person visits at least two business days (excludes Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) in advance. They are encouraged to schedule by emailing the same address they have been using to set up Zoom visits, which can be found by going to the individual institution's page on the DOC website. Those without internet access can call the institution's main line. Whether calling or emailing, visitors are asked to specify whether they are requesting a zoom or in-person visit.
Updated DAI Expectations for Visiting
In addition to the new scheduling process for visitors, there are several updated visitation guidelines designed to protect persons in our care, visitors and DOC staff. Those include:
DOC expects initial demand for in-person visits to be high. Due to social distancing and other preventative measures related to COVID-19, capacity in visitation areas has been decreased, but DOC institutions will attempt, when possible, to honor up to two face-to-face visiting periods each week for each person in our care. The number of visits may vary by institution to account for individual site needs.
Institutions will continue to offer video visits as a supplement to face-to-face visitation, allowing persons in our care one video visit a week. Video visits will continue to be free to all persons in DOC’s care. Each person in DOC care will also continue to receive two free phone
calls weekly and a free pre-embossed envelope every two weeks until DOC returns fully to pre-pandemic
Each DOC institution will develop entrance procedures for visitors, which will include a COVID-19 screening (temperature and symptoms check) by security staff.
Updated COVID-19 Precautions, Rules and Guidelines for Visiting
DOC understands seeing loved ones in-person for the first time in 15 months will be an emotional experience for many. However, due to the continued threat of COVID-19, DOC is imposing the following rules when face-to-face visitation resumes on July 6:
- Initially, up to three approved visitors will be allowed for a specific visit with a person in our care. Relationship does not matter but at least one visitor must be an adult.
- Brief hugs are allowed at the beginning and end of visit; kisses are not allowed.
- Hand holding and sitting on laps is not allowed.
- Individual sites have discretion on how young children and infants can interact with persons in our care.
- Per CDC guidance related to mask wearing in correctional facilities, all visitors age two or above shall wear a mask for the duration of the visit.
- All persons in our care shall be required to wear a mask for the duration of the visit.
- Food and/or drink are allowed, but cannot be shared amongst visitors and persons in our care.
- All chairs and tables will be sanitized between visits.
- The children's area shall not be available as it is difficult to sanitize between usage.
- Outdoor visiting will require the same processes/restrictions.
- Vaccination status of an individual will not alter any of these rules or guidelines.
- Refusal to comply with these rules may result in ending the visit.
In addition, to these COVID-19 rules, General Visiting Rules will be enforced. You can find those rules and more information about visitation on our Visiting Information page.
Additional Information Related to DOC's Return to Normal Operations
DOC is beginning the transition to normal operations, including work release, project crews, volunteer visits and religious visits, if that transition can be done in a safe manner that protects the health of persons in our care, staff and surrounding communities. Resumption of these programs may vary by facility, and anyone with questions about these activities should contact the institution directly or email DOCGeneral@wisconsin.gov.