FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2021
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION TO RESUME IN-PERSON VISITS AND OTHER SERVICES SUSPENDED DUE TO COVID-19
East Elmhurst, NY – June 9, 2021 – As the City continues its return to normal operation, DOC is extraordinarily pleased to announce the phased resumption of certain paused services, including in-person family visits. Such visits have been largely unavailable to people in custody and their families and temporarily replaced by televisits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The key services that will resume in the coming weeks include barbershop and beauty salon for men and women in custody (resuming June 7), congregant religious services (resuming June 14), and in-person family visits (resuming June 25). For in-person visits, we strongly encourage people to pre-register and schedule online here beginning June 14. Due to high-demand and social distancing requirements, drop-in visits will only be allowed in the unlikely event that there is space in the schedule.
Due to the pandemic, certain services for people in custody and their families had to be limited or reimagined, and this gradual reopening marks a turning point for our jails as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has made seeing friends and family challenging for everyone, and it has been especially difficult for people in custody and their families because of the special challenges COVID poses in jails. This is a happy occasion, and as normal services resume we expect it to have a very positive impact on the safety and wellbeing of everyone who lives and works in our facilities,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.
"As there is less COVID in our communities and more vaccinated New Yorkers, we can begin to reconnect with people whom we love and whom we’ve missed," said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. "Vaccination is the single most important thing you can do to protect your loved ones from COVID-19. It makes every activity safer and we’ll continue working to expand vaccine coverage among New Yorkers."
“With the currently low rate of COVID-19 positivity in the jails, and in New York City, we look forward to the Department’s reinstatement of services including in-person visitation, religious services, and hairdressing,” said Dr. Patsy Yang, Senior Vice President of NY Health + Hospitals for Correctional Health Services (CHS). “These services are vital to our patients’ mental health and emotional wellbeing, and we welcome this safe return to these meaningful in-person interactions.”
The Department is committed to restarting these services in a way that is safe for the people who work and live in our facilities. We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Correctional Health Services (CHS) to develop guidelines to safely reopen visits and other services.
As an initial launch, in-person visits will resume on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and all visitors and people in custody will be socially distanced, six feet apart from both themselves and other people having visits. Visitors will take part in a self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure, have their temperatures checked, and be required to wear masks. Once in-person visits resume, our televisits program, which you can register for here, will continue to be available Saturdays and Sundays. We will continue to evaluate how to expand the availability of both in-person and televisitation in the coming weeks and months.
In most facilities, Barbershop will be available in the day rooms, though women in custody at the Rose M. Singer Center (RMSC) will be able to visit the Beauty Salon.
As congregate religious services begin again on June 14, the chapel capacity will be limited to 10 people. Additional services have been added to our regular religious service schedule to ensure everyone can worship in a congregate setting if they choose.
More information will be available in coming days and weeks on our website.
The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment while providing individuals in our care with a path to successfully re-enter their communities. The Department provides for the care and custody of people ordered held by the courts and awaiting trial or who are convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time. DOC manages 8 facilities housing people in custody, 7 of which are located on Rikers Island. The Department also operates two hospital wards (Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals) and court facilities in each borough. Our dedicated workforce of both uniformed and non-uniformed staff members represents the city’s Boldest.