Philadelphia prisons to resume limited in-person visits

Philadelphia’s prison system is offering in-person visits for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, though with restrictions.

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia.

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Prison System said it will resume some in-person visits to incarcerated people next week.

The visits will begin on Monday, Nov. 15, with appointments available online beginning on Friday. Only incarcerated people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to receive visits, which will require 48 hours’ notice.

People who want to make in-person visits to the city’s prison facilities will only be allowed to arrive 10 minutes before their scheduled appointment, and children under the age of 10 are not allowed to come for now. The Department of Prisons also said no walk-ins will be allowed and strict physical distancing measures will be observed.

Visitors will be subjected to a temperature screening, and if a person’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees, they will not be allowed to enter the facility. All visitors will have to be masked the entire time.

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In a statement, Prison Commissioner Blache Carney said the department has been working hard to lessen the spread of COVID-19 to keep both incarcerated people and staff safe.

“That mitigation resulted in the suspension of visits to keep the inmate population safe, but we quickly launched a virtual platform so that inmates could maintain connections with family and friends during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Carney said. “We are pleased to announce the return of in person visits, as we understand the significant and positive impact it will have on the inmate population.”

Visits will be limited to an hour a week with a rotation to make sure there is equitable distribution. Free phone calls and virtual visits will continue for all incarcerated people, whether or not they have been vaccinated.

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