HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania’s state prisons announced Monday they will not allow in-person visits for the coming month because their staff has been thinned by coronavirus infection.
In-person visits will be stopped at all state correctional institutions starting on Thursday and lasting until Feb. 28. Free video visits will be expanded, and cable TV in inmates’ cells will be free in February.
Acting Corrections Secretary George Little said quarantine requirements have increasingly required voluntary and mandatory overtime he considers unsustainable.
The prison system implemented a statewide quarantine in March 2020, and in-person visits began to resume in May 2021.
The Corrections Department said recreational, educational and programming opportunities won’t be affected by the visitation policy but could be modified at individual prisons.
There have been more than 14,000 inmate COVID-19 cases and 155 deaths within the system that now houses about 36,000 prisoners. About 90% of inmates are fully vaccinated.
Among state prison staff, barely half are fully vaccinated.
The prisons affected include SCI Mercer in Findley Township.