Gov. Steve Bullock issued new a directive this week to protect inmates at staff from coronavirus at various correctional facilities and jails by suspending most new transfers and screening those who do arrive.
The governor said the Board of Pardons and Parole will also consider early release for older inmates, inmates who have medical conditions that make them high risk, pregnant inmates, and inmates nearing their release date.
That will only occur where the board determines that one’s release does not pose a public safety risk and that inmates can adequately receive medical care and meet supervision requirements in the community, Bullock said.
“Today’s steps follow the best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in places exceed them,” said Governor Bullock. “The aim is to ensure that offender populations in Montana and corrections staff are taking necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Under the directive, new inmate transfers will be suspected, except where authorized by the director of the Department of Corrections. Any new transfers will need to be quarantined for 14 days. The directive applies to all DOC facilities and contract facilities in Montana.
The directive also ensures screening for anyone who arrives at a facility, and restricting all in-person visitation. Nothing in the directive changes the rights of victims to be notified of and participate in any release decisions through the existing process.
Bullock said the department also is instructed to implement testing and isolation protocols if inmates display symptoms of COVID-19. The department will follow social distancing measures when possible and provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff following CDC recommendations.