Home News DOC suspends visitation and volunteering at Louisiana’s state-run prisons

DOC suspends visitation and volunteering at Louisiana’s state-run prisons

By David Jacobs | The Center Square 15 hrs ago Facebook Twitter Email FILE - Prison, jail, inmates Shutterstock photo Facebook Twitter Email Print Save (The Center Square) – Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson is asking district judges to minimize the number of people in parish jails in hopes of restricting the spread of COVID-19. In a letter issued Thursday, Johnson urged judges to work with prosecutors, public defenders and sheriffs to conduct a “risk-based assessment of all detainees.” For those charged with misdemeanor crimes other than domestic abuse battery, she favors a “nominal bail amount” or release with an order to appear in court at a future date. For those convicted of a misdemeanor, judges should consider a release with supervised probation, Johnson says. Johnson suggests reducing bail obligations for people charged with a nonviolent offenses. For other types of charges, courts still could “re-examine the nature of the offense and criminal history, if any, to determine if any bail revisions are appropriate.” Johnson says judges should confer with the Department of Probation and Parole to consider alternatives to detention for parole violations. And she urges law enforcement to consider issuing summons and citations for misdemeanors and nonviolent offenses in lieu of arrest. The ACLU of Louisiana applauded Johnson’s requests, which are consistent with the organization’s call to reduce prison and jail populations to protect public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Public health experts have been warning that our prisons and jails could become powder kegs of this disease, putting additional strain on our hospitals and endangering millions of lives,” said Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana’s executive director.

Out of an abundance of caution concerning the latest surge of COVID-19 positive cases in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C) has suspended prisoner visitation and volunteering effective immediately through August 16, 2021, at Louisiana’s eight state-run prisons. The Department has taken this precautionary measure to protect its staff and prisoner populations, and will review and reconsider the need for these measures on August 16, 2021.

In lieu of visitation, the Department will continue to offer two free phone calls per week to ensure inmates have continued connection to family and friends during this event. In addition, video calling remains available for a fee.

To help prevent the spread of this disease within Louisiana’s eight state-run prisons, the DOC continues COVID screening with temperature checks and questions for anyone entering the state’s prisons, including staff and vendors.


The DPS&C has reminded its staff and inmates on social distancing and hand washing practices to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus. Staff who are sick with symptoms consistent with the flu or coronavirus continue to be reminded to stay home.

Approximately 68 percent of inmates incarcerated in Louisiana’s state-run prisons have voluntarily chosen to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and the Department continues to make vaccinations available to all inmates.

The DOC, in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, is following CDC guidance, and continues to monitor the situation and update its response as necessary.

Stay informed on decisions affecting the state’s prisons by visiting the Department’s website at doc.la.gov.

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