FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2020
of Corrections Announces Demobilization Plans
– Department of Corrections Sec. John Wetzel today announced that,
beginning May 26, the DOC will begin the demobilization (or reopening) process
for state prisons and will use a system of five levels that is guided by
the governor’s statewide reopening plans.
“As the Governor reopens
Pennsylvania, we, too, must return to a more normal operation, and get back
to preparing individuals to successfully reenter society.” Wetzel said.
“I’m very appreciative of our staff who have worked tirelessly to slow the
spread of this virus, and it’s time to move forward with caution.”
detailed chart explaining the levels is available on the DOC’s website.
Wetzel said the
plan is consistent with Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan that consists of a
phased approach that relies on safety and science. Specifically, as
counties go from red, yellow, and green, prisons within those counties will
be gradually increasing the “cohort size” or number of inmates allowed out
at one time, and programs and religious services will slowly transition
from cell based, back to an approach with smaller numbers to ensure social
The DOC’s plan
consists of 5 levels, with Level 5 being most restrictive and Level 1 being
least restrictive. Successful movement to lower levels will depend on
whether there are any new confirmed COVID-19 positive cases among staff or
inmates. The designation of the county in which the prison is located also
plays a role in determining the appropriate level of reopening.
“While we may
never return to pre-COVID operations, we do expect to return to near normal
operations that includes social distancing and continued monitoring of
staff and inmates for symptoms,” Wetzel said. “We believe in acting quickly
and aggressively when responding to this virus, while affording more
out-of-cell time and allowing inmates to return to work, education,
programing and activities.”
On May 26, the
following facilities officially will move to Level 4: Camp Hill,
Chester, Coal Township, Dallas, Frackville, Huntingdon, Mahanoy, Phoenix,
Retreat, Smithfield and Waymart.
On May 26, the
following facilities will move to Level 3: Albion, Benner Township,
Cambridge Springs, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Houtzdale, Laurel Highlands,
Mercer, Muncy, Pine Grove, Quehanna, Rockview and Somerset.
Wetzel said that
employee enhanced screening will continue and that both staff and inmates
will be required to wear masks.
remain suspended through all levels until the entire state is “green.”
Video visits – which have been well received by inmates and visitors --
will remain an option, and directions for participating in video visits can
be obtained from the DOC’s website.
COVID testing strategy has been initiated that includes (in part) testing
of all transfers within the DOC, all individuals who are to be released
from the DOC, and all new commitments from county jails.
DOC officials are
drafting reentry and parole supervision demobilization plans and expect to
finalize them in June.
Find the latest information,
including a daily dashboard, on the DOC’s COVID-19 efforts here.
Find the latest information on
the coronavirus here.
MEDIA CONTACT: Susan McNaughton, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Maria Finn, email@example.com
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