(KPAX) Officials announced Friday that visits to the Montana Department of Corrections’ (DOC) facilities has been suspended until further notice.
“In an effort to mitigate the risk of introduction of the COVID-19 virus to any of the department’s facilities, we are suspending visitation until advised we can resume regular visitation schedules,” said DOC Director Reginald Michael following Gov. Steve Bullock’s Thursday declaration of a state of emergency.
“We understand the importance of in-person interaction for our inmates, their family and friends, but staff and inmate health and safety are our top priorities.”
Facilities affected by the cancellation include Montana State Prison, Montana Women’s Prison and Pine Hills Correctional Facility. Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby also suspended visitation on Friday.
Director Michael encouraged inmates and their loved ones to take advantage of available phone services to stay in touch. Additionally, video chat visits are available for inmates at Montana State Prison and Pine Hills.
“We do not take this decision lightly and it comes following extensive evaluation,” Michael said. “We appreciate the public’s understanding and patience.”
The restriction applies to volunteers at these facilities as well.
Effective immediately, the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole will conduct all its hearings through video conferencing. For more information, call (406) 846-1404 Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.
DOC staff is in contact with the Governor’s Office and Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) daily to ensure the most up-to-date guidance and protocols are in place.
Should you have questions about COVID-19, contact DPHHS’ COVID-19 information line at 1-888-333-0461 or visit covid19.mt.gov.