VADOC continues canceling visitation for Covid

Watchful Eye
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COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc on the visitation schedules at Virginia prisons as the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) continues to suspend visitation at facilities across the state.

As of today, August 5, there are currently three facilities subject to suspensions, VADOC’s coronavirus update page shows. These include:

· Deerfield Correctional Center (Capron): In-person and video visitation has been suspended through August 15, 2022.

· Haynesville Correctional Center (Haynesville): In-person visitation for the entire facility and video visitation for Housing Units 2B, 4A, and 6B has been suspended through August 8, 2022.

· Rustburg Correctional Unit (Rustburg): In-person visitation has been suspended through August 9, 2022.

And that’s just the impact on visitation within the first week of August.

Scroll through VADOC’s Facebook page and you’ll find that during the month of July, visitation was suspended at numerous facilities, including Marion Correctional Treatment Center, Buckingham Correctional Center, Baskerville Correctional Center, Deerfield Men’s Work Center, and the list goes on.

Some facilities are seeing recurring suspensions, such as Haynesville and Rustburg, which in addition to the current suspensions also had visits suspended in July.

Sometimes when VADOC cancels suspensions, the department specifically notes it’s “due to an outbreak” or “due to an increase in cases.”

But other times, the department just announces that visitation has been suspended without specifying why. Then, it lists the facilities where those suspensions are occurring on its coronavirus update, apparently hoping that people will draw the conclusion that visits have been halted because of the virus.

Even if the virus is the cause of the ongoing suspensions, VADOC is giving itself a lot of leeway to halt visits in the name COVID-19.

“In-person visitation is dependent upon favorable pandemic conditions at the facility. The visitation schedule is subject to change based on evolving pandemic conditions,” the department’s update says.

What are “evolving pandemic conditions?” Society at large has evolved to a point where operations are no longer shutting down and access is no longer being denied simply because someone or some people contract a case of the coronavirus. Yet, VADOC does not appear to be evolving accordingly.

And what are “favorable pandemic conditions?” In Rustburg, where visitation is currently suspended, the chart in VADOC’s update shows there is only one active inmate case, that individual is not hospitalized, and there are zero active staff cases.

Across all of its facilities in Virginia, there are currently 141 active staff cases, and there are only 135 active inmates cases. There is not a single inmate hospitalized for COVID-19 at this point, according to VADOC’s data. Furthermore, VADOC says the majority of inmates across the state are fully vaccinated.

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