The state's correctional facilities are set to reopen for visitors and volunteers later this month, relaxing policies that were set in place more than a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state.
The Montana Women's Prison in Billings will allow visitors beginning April 24. Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge will allow visitors back April 29, as will Pine Hills Correctional Facility near Miles City.
“We are thrilled that we can reopen visitation for the inmates in our secure facilities,” Director Brian Gootkin said in an emailed statement Friday. “COVID-19 has thrown many challenges at our facilities and staff, and I’m so proud of the work they have done to keep each other and our inmates safe. Now, it’s time to reunite families with their loved ones.”
Gootkin said in the email the department's medical staff consulted with federal, state and local health officials to create its reopening plan with consideration for the health of the public, DOC staff and inmates.
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Visitors and inmates will both be screened prior to the visit. If the screening produces a high temperature or any other symptoms, the visit will not occur, DOC said in Friday's email.
The Montana State Prison saw its most recent COVID-19 cases in March, with six inmates who were screened during the intake process and seven staff testing positive for COVID-19.