COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Incarcerated Population Reduction Efforts
- Informational Calls for Friends & Family
- Sanitizing & Cleaning
- Screening & Testing
- Social Distancing
- Work/Training Release
1. Has the Department of Corrections (DOC) reduced the number of inter-facility transfers?
Yes. The DOC has greatly reduced the number of inter-facility transfers that are being conducted agency-wide. Since March of 2020, the department has reduced the number of inter-facility transfers by nearly 75%.
2. Is the commissary still open for purchases?
The commissary is still open and functional.
3. Are all Washington State correctional facilities in direct communication with local health care centers and hospitals?
4. What form needs to be completed by an incarcerated individual for loved ones to receive health information regarding their incarcerated loved one?
Prior to the release of health information for an individual, DOC 13-035 Authorization for Disclosure of Health Information needs to be completed and signed by the incarcerated individual. The form can be completed at any time and will then be maintained in the individual’s file for reference, if a loved one contacts the facility inquiring about health information. It is important to note that the authorization form will expire six months from the date the incarcerated individual has signed the form unless the incarcerated individual fills in a “date, event or condition” on the form in the appropriate blank. The form is available by request within the living units as well as in a facility’s health services/infirmary area.
Incarcerated Population Reduction Efforts
1. Is Department of Corrections (DOC) considering compassionate release?
The Governor’s emergency proclamation and commutation order authorized the release of individuals who meet specific criteria. For individuals currently in total confinement, eligibility for consideration requires no violent offense or sex offense (as defined under RCW 9.94A.030) and a release date on or before October 13, 2020 (within 180 days of the Governor’s order).
To determine whether someone qualifies as non-violent, the Department considers the individual’s offense history for the current period of DOC jurisdiction (the period during which the individual has continuously been under DOC jurisdiction, either in confinement or on supervision).
2. How many individuals were released or transferred? Who was released or transferred?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need to provide more physical distancing within the state's correctional facilities, the Department implemented a limited transfer of 950 minimum custody and work release incarcerated individuals to their communities. The documents linked to in the following list contain the names of individuals transferred to the community.
- Commutation List (Updated 5/4/2020)
- Rapid Reentry List (Updated 5/15/2020)
- Work Release Furlough List (Updated 5/7/2020)
3. Who do I contact if I have questions about an individual who was released?
Questions concerning a specific individual should be directed to the facility where the individual is housed. Facility staff will provide information that is appropriate and authorized by policy.
Provided information will not include specific reasons why an individual may have been removed from a list. Thank you for your understanding.
Informational Calls for Friends & Family
1. What are these calls and how did they begin?
Each Washington State correctional facility has a local family council (LFC), which is comprised of family members who have an individual incarcerated at the facility, and department employees. These LFCs have working relationships that were in existence prior to COVID-19. The decision was made to invite LFC members to attend a regularly scheduled informational call with facility management to receive firsthand information from those who are in the facility working through the COVID-19 pandemic response. These calls then adopted the name “Local Family Council COVID-19 Informational Calls.” Since that time, headquarters staff and local facility staff have encouraged all individuals who are approved visitors with an incarcerated individual at that respective facility to attend these regularly scheduled calls.
Facilities have been instructed by headquarters to ensure all participating individuals are approved visitors in good standing to ensure the calls remain manageable and informational for those who attend. For those asking to join the LFC COVID-19 informational call, once they go through the process of verification, they are added to the previously maintained LFC distribution list so the facility can better facilitate those individuals wishing to attend these calls. The facility-specific LFC distribution list is used for feasibility and contact purposes. Also, for anyone interested in the most current information regarding specific facilities, such as confirmed cases for incarcerated individuals and staff or associated memorandums, the information is available on the agency’s COVID-19 webpage.
The COVID-19 informational calls are not regulated by family council policy, though it may be referenced for guidance in the maintenance of these calls. Individuals do not have to participate in the LFC regularly scheduled meetings that take place per family council policy. The informational calls do not represent an amendment to the family council policy. The department felt it necessary and appropriate to inform families regarding ongoing updates to facility operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and due to the already good working relationship with the pre-established local family councils, the department decided this was the best venue to provide COVID information since early in the pandemic.
2. What is the required frequency of these calls?
These calls are required to occur weekly when a facility is in “outbreak status.”
For facilities not in outbreak status, calls may occur on a bi-weekly schedule and in consultation with local family council input.
Calls will be a maximum of one hour in length.
3. Who is invited to attend these calls?
Attendees can be any friend or family member who is an approved visitor of an incarcerated individual of that respective facility, and in good standing.
Each facility is responsible for putting a process in place to provide a method for families to inquire, and once their visitation status is verified as being in good standing with the facility, be invited to attend the informational calls and added to the email distribution list.
Facility management, local family council co-chair and secretary for the facility and additional departmental staff also attend as they have availability.
Office of Corrections Ombuds staff are invited to attend these calls.
Call-in information should not be shared with anyone who does not receive the calendar invite unless there is approval from the facility management.
4. What are the requirements of those in attendance of these calls?
These calls are a collaborative effort between families and agency staff. To be the most productive, all participants on the call will demonstrate integrity, honesty, good judgment, cooperation, professionalism, respect and courtesy. Two agency values that assist in productive communication include respectful and inclusive interactions and positivity in words and actions. All participants will follow the pre-established call expectations provided by the facility.
Facilities have the option to conduct the calls in the manner that works best for their staff such as answering pre-submitted questions followed by hosting additional questions and answers, if time allows. Other examples include one question per person at a time, announcing your name prior to asking your question for notes purposes, identifying your name to the contact/call-in information showing to confirm individuals are in fact approved to be in attendance, etc.
Facilities may require questions be submitted by a specific deadline prior to the call to allow the staff time to provide the most thorough and accurate answers.
Questions must be related to the COVID-19 response at that respective facility. All other questions will be submitted to the Correspondence Unit for assignment, per the normal agency process. If a question is regarding correctional records and unable to be answered by the agency’s Correspondence Unit, the individual may be advised of the public records request process to obtain such information.
5. Are there minutes from these calls?
All Washington State correctional facilities are required to take notes from each of their calls and send them to their attendees and to the agency’s webmaster for posting on the local family council webpage each week. These are not LFC meeting minutes; the informational calls are not official meetings. Due to limited resources there may be a delay in the posting of these notes. However, each facility will post them as soon as is feasible, and when possible, prior to the next scheduled phone call.
Sanitizing & Cleaning
1. What cleaning protocols are being used to clean the facilities?
All DOC locations instituted an intensive cleaning protocol focusing on sanitizing high touch surfaces, increased personal hygiene, and posting of DOH COVID-19 and hygiene related materials in public areas and areas visible to the incarcerated population. Hand sanitizer was authorized in prison facilities for use by employees and contract staff, and are placed in areas where soap and water are not readily available. Incarcerated individuals have access to hand sanitizer in supervised locations. We are also providing free access to sanitation products for individuals inside prisons.
2. What is the plan to sanitize telephone headsets?
Facilities are using the resources available to them for advanced cleaning. Some use disinfecting wipes, some use disinfectant solutions and paper towels. Phone handsets are disinfected between each use.
Screening & Testing
1. Are staff and incarcerated individuals being screened when they come to a Department of Corrections (DOC) location?
Corrections has implemented enhanced screening protocols for all employees, contract staff, incarcerated individuals and others entering DOC facilities and field offices consistent with recommendations from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
2. What happens when staff are screened out from entering a Department of Corrections (DOC) location?
If staff have a fever equal to or greater than 100.4 or experienced a cough within the last 14 days, they will not be allowed into the DOC location and will be referred to a medical professional to determine if they meet the criteria for testing.
3. How is the Department of Corrections (DOC) managing the situation when there are staff with positive results?
DOC has protocols in place that follow recommendations for quarantines set forth by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the CDC. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
Corrections also works to identify and notify employees considered to have had close contact with a staff member with positive COVID-19 test results will be asked to self-quarantine at home for up to 14 days (from date of last contact with the employee who tested positive), following DOH guidelines.
Additionally, in DOC work locations with positive results, the Department has thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the areas. All employees believed to have been in close contact are self-quarantining at home. The Department continues to take steps to increase the number of employees who are teleworking. DOC asks that employees and others practice compassion and respect for the privacy of employees who are sick, as well as others who may be self-quarantined.
4. What is the Department of Corrections' (DOC) protocol for testing, isolating and quarantining incarcerated individuals?
Per DOC Health Services guidance, incarcerated individuals who show symptoms will be directed to don a surgical mask to immediately prevent potential spread of a virus and placed in isolation. Their cellmates will be immediately quarantined until they can be evaluated by a medical provider. DOC nursing staff will perform initial screening assessments then notify a health care practitioner for further assessment and testing as needed.
Any patients with laboratory confirmed COVID-19, or who were not tested, but are suspicious for COVID-19, will remain in isolation until they have been symptom-free for 14 days. Patients who test negative for COVID-19 will remain in isolation until they have been symptom-free for 14 days, unless they have a documented or confirmed alternative diagnosis that explains their symptoms, such as a positive influenza test. Individuals who have no symptoms yet have potentially been exposed to those who tested positive for COVID-19 will be quarantined for 14 days or until symptoms develop.
5. How is the Department of Corrections (DOC) managing the situation when there are incarcerated individuals with positive results?
If an incarcerated individual does test positive, they will be isolated and treated and those who have been in close contact will be quarantined.
6. Are correctional facilities identifying at risk people in quarantined units?
Yes, DOC is establishing additional precautions for those in units with a vulnerable population and our infirmaries. DOC Health Services established these precautions based on recommendations set forth by the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
7. Is the Department of Corrections (DOC) providing doctors’ visits and COVID-19 screenings for the incarcerated population?
Incarcerated individuals who experience symptoms are encouraged to report them to health services staff immediately. When a health care practitioner determines there is a need, co-pays are waived for testing patients.
8. What happens if an individual at a work release facility tests positive for COVID-19?
DOC has an overall agency plan for emerging pandemics. The Department also has individualized location-specific pandemic plans for each correctional facility, work release facility and field office within each section.
9. If COVID-19 spreads through the Department of Corrections (DOC), what contingency plans are in place to ensure things keep running?
DOC has prepared continuity of operations plans (COOP) for maintaining critical functions of the department. The Department has opened the Department’s Emergency Response Center and deployed its Incident Response Team. Individual facilities have opened their as well. Ensuring continuity of operations, safety of our staff, our incarcerated, and the public and the response to COVID-19 are our top priorities at this time. In addition, our response is supported by the Governor’s Office, the state Emergency Management Department, the Department of Health, several other state agencies, and federal resources.
10. Will transfers of incarcerated/detained persons to and from other jurisdictions and facilities be restricted?
Transfers will be restricted unless necessary for medical evaluation, medical isolation/quarantine, clinical care, extenuating security concerns, or to prevent overcrowding.
11. Who within the correctional facilities is tested and isolated for influenza-like illness/COVID-19?
Testing and isolation should generally be ordered for any patient with new onset respiratory symptoms (for example dyspnea, cough, pharyngitis) OR fever.
12. How will families be notified if their loved one becomes sick?
DOC will be following the same protocols as any other health concern and due to federal regulations cannot provide notifications specific to an individual’s health status without a signed release. Persons who become ill will still have access to telecommunications to be able to provide their own notification.
1. Has the Department of Corrections (DOC) implemented social distancing practices?
Yes, DOC has implemented social distancing and is encouraging 6 feet of distance between people when able to do so. It is a priority to make social distancing the practice.
2. In what way(s) will the Department of Corrections (DOC) work to achieve social distancing?
- Staggering movement as much as needed, and explaining to the population the effects of keeping distance from others.
- Incident Command Centers will evaluate current movement practices and develop/redesign movement schedules/practices to accommodate identified operational changes.
3. What are some of the social distancing steps being taken within the correctional facilities and work release?
- Discourage physical touch/handshakes.
- Encourage staff to model social distancing practices.
- Frequent management walkabouts to help ensure incarcerated individuals and employees are practicing social distancing.
- All staff are encouraged to give on-site praise for desired behaviors and corrections for non-desired behaviors.
- Increase communication with tier representatives as ongoing reminders for social distancing.
- Management staff meet with tier representatives at least daily to hear concerns and clarify existing directions.
4. Are incarcerated individual work crews still in operation in facilities?
- For crews within institutions, work crew sizes have been limited to no more than 10 individuals. Depending on size of work area, crews may exceed 10 if social distancing (6 foot rule) can be managed.
- Symptomatic incarcerated workers are not allowed to go to work.
- Handwashing and sanitizing are being increased while at work.
- Hygiene and sanitation education are being increased for all workers.
5. Are incarcerated individual work crews still in operation outside of facilities?
No, with the following exceptions:
- DNR crews with no community interaction are going into the forests for planting.
- Cedar Creek Corrections Center is approved to send crews to McNeil Island for operations on the island, and to the Correctional Industries headquarters.
1. When will Washington DOC employees and incarcerated individuals be offered a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Currently vaccine is being offered to DOC employees and incarcerated individuals who meet the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Phase 1A and 1B1-4 priority group definitions based on vaccine availability. This applies to:
- Any worker in a high risk health care setting, meaning any DOC employee or incarcerated individual working in a setting where care is being provided to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients and close contact with them is possible.
- All DOC employees and incarcerated individuals aged 65 or older regardless of job duties or location.
- High risk critical workers who work in certain congregate settings:
- Fishing vessel crews
- Food processing
- Grocery stores
- Jails or detention centers
- Public transit
- Remaining first responders
- People 16 years or older who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness
- All people, staff, and volunteers in congregate living settings:
- Correctional facilities;
- group homes for people with disabilities;
- people experiencing homelessness that live in or access services in congregate settings
If DOC employees believe they meet either of these definitions but have not yet been contacted, please attend a local DOC COVID vaccine clinic to receive your vaccination. Additionally, DOC employees may seek vaccination in the community by visiting the Vaccinate Washington: COVID-19 Vaccine Availability for vaccination locations. An additional option is to visit one of the Washington DOH mass vaccination sites. All DOC employees and incarcerated individuals are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. The ability to provide vaccine doses to all who wish to receive them continues to depend on the supply available to the state.
2. When will Washington DOC receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Department of Corrections has begun receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses and, as of December 28, 2020, has begun vaccinating departmental employees and incarcerated individuals according to the Phase 1A prioritization plan.
3. How will you distribute the vaccines?
Vaccine doses will be sent directly to the facilities housing or employing the individuals and employees identified in the Phase 1A prioritization plan. Identification of receiving facilities based on updated prioritization will be done on a weekly basis. Each COVID-19 vaccine has its own handling and storage requirements requiring careful planning and coordination.
4. Is Washington State Department of Corrections developing a priority list for receiving vaccinations?
Yes. The priority list is based on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recommendations for vaccine dosing prioritization.
5. Will DOC employees or incarcerated individuals be required to be vaccinated?
While COVID-19 vaccination is not required, we are strongly recommending that all DOC employees and incarcerated individuals are vaccinated. Getting vaccinated will help maintain a safe living and work environment and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks that threaten the health and well-being of all that live and work in DOC facilities.
While declining the vaccine is an option, DOC’s goal is 100% vaccine coverage among employees and incarcerated individuals.
6. What if DOC employees or incarcerated individuals decline to take the vaccine and then change their mind?
If DOC employees or incarcerated individuals decline the vaccine and then change their mind they will be able to receive it at a later time. They can make a request for vaccine dosing after previously declining through their facility COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator.
7. Will there be a cost for DOC employees to get the vaccine?
No, vaccines will be offered free of charge for DOC employees and incarcerated individuals.
8. How do the available COVID-19 vaccines work?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Pfizer, on December 11, 2020, and the second developed by Moderna, on 12/18/20. To date Washington Corrections has received only doses of the Moderna vaccine. Both are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. In the human body, mRNA contains the instructions for creating proteins inside cells. In the case of these vaccines, the mRNA instructs the human cell to make viral proteins that stimulate the body’s immune system to protect against future infection by the virus that causes COVID-19.
9. Are the vaccines effective at preventing COVID-19 disease?
Yes, they are extremely effective in preventing symptomatic disease. In large phase 3 clinical trials, which enrolled tens of thousands of patients each, the two available COVID-19 vaccines were both approximately 94-95% effective at preventing symptoms due to COVID-19 compared with patients who received placebo.
10. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, the currently available COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live virus making it impossible to get infected from them. Some individuals do experience post-vaccinations symptoms as the immune system is stimulated, that can be similar to the symptoms of a viral infection.
11. Is the vaccine more dangerous than being infected with COVID-19??
No. As of January 22, 2021, more than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 infection, including many who were young and previously healthy. Vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials before they can be approved for use. The available COVID-19 vaccines were associated with only minor, temporary side effects in clinical trials and more serious side effects are exceedingly rare.
12. What are the short-term side effects of the vaccine?
Some individuals experience no side effects and some experience only soreness at the site of the injection. Others have side effects from COVID-19 vaccination that may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. These side effects might include muscle aches, headache, and fever.
13. What if someone has an adverse reaction to the vaccine that is more serious than the side effects?
DOC employees and incarcerated individuals will be monitored for adverse reactions by medical staff for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given, or for 30 minutes if they have a history of severe allergic reactions. If they have an adverse reaction after that, such as swelling of the face, mouth, difficulty swallowing or breathing, they should call 911 immediately or declare a medical emergency.
14. Are there any long term side effects from the vaccine?
Since these vaccines have only been in existence for several months there is no evidence with which to answer this question with certainty. However, in general, long term adverse events from vaccines are exceedingly rare. Additionally, there is a national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) that monitors vaccines for safety events after they have been approved and are in use, which will give us more information about long term safety in the future.
15. Can I receive the vaccine if I have a history of allergies?
Yes, people with previous histories of severe allergies to other vaccines, medications, foods or bee stings can still receive the vaccine, however, it is recommended they be monitored for 30 minutes instead of the usual 15. Severe allergic reactions to the available COVID-19 vaccines have been reported in the media, but are extremely rare.
16. Can the COVID-19 vaccine change my DNA?
The mRNA that comprises the COVID-19 vaccines does not enter the nucleus of human cells, where DNA resides. The mRNA is taken up into the outer part of the cell, where viral proteins are made, and then the mRNA is rapidly destroyed.
17. If both vaccines require two doses, can DOC employees mix the doses and get the Moderna vaccine first followed by the Pfizer vaccine?
No, both doses employees receive must be from the same manufacturer. The two available vaccines are not interchangeable. Moderna’s vaccine doses are given 28 days apart, and Pfizer’s 21 days apart.
18. How will people be sure to get their second dose? Is timing essential?
Tracking systems have been developed to ensure that DOC employees and incarcerated individuals receive the second dose of the correct vaccine at the right time. If you have questions about the second dose or believe you are overdue contact the facility COVID-19 vaccine coordinator by email or kite.
Timing of the second dose is important and should be given as close as possible to the recommended time interval. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended that second doses of both vaccines currently in use can be given up to 6 weeks from the first and still be effective in cases where adhering to the time interval recommendation is not possible.
19. If I tested positive for COVID-19, do I still need to get the vaccine?
Yes, you should still be vaccinated against COVID-19. Natural immunity to COVID-19, which is your body’s immune response to infection, wanes over time, so it is recommended that you receive vaccine even if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past.
20. Will the fact that DOC employees received a vaccine go into their medical records?
No. Corrections' Occupational Health and Wellness will document employee vaccinations in a way that is only accessible to human resources staff. Record of employee COVID-19 vaccination will be entered into Washington State’s Immunization Information System so employee's primary care provider can confirm that they received it.
21. What if I am pregnant or breast-feeding? Can I still get the vaccine?
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding and included in a group recommended to receive the vaccine, such as a worker in a high-risk health care setting, you may choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, it is recommend that you discuss this decision with your health care provider.
22. Once DOC employees and incarcerated individuals are vaccinated, do they still need to mask and physical distance?
Yes. Until more is known about how many people will take the COVID-19 vaccine and what the overall effect on case numbers and transmission is, it is recommended that we all continue to wear masks, physically distance, and perform frequent hand hygiene.
1. Is the Department of Corrections (DOC) providing free and full access to phone calls, video visiting, and JPAY messaging?
Effective March 18, Global Tel Link started providing two (2) free phone calls of up to five (5) minutes each, every week to the incarcerated population. This will last until April 14, at which time it will be reviewed for possible additional options.
Effective March 20, JPay will be providing the following discounts for incarcerated individuals, their friends and families:
- Reduced cost for inbound VideoGrams
- One free video visit credit per JPay account
- Two free stamps (or credits) each week credited individuals’ JPay accounts
2. Is the agency expediting JPAY communications?
Everything is being processed per policy timeframes – 2 business days for physical mail and 7 business days for JPAY messages. Knowing how important these communications are, the agency will continue to monitor these timeframes and work to keep the turnaround times low.
3. I heard all tours, events, and visitation have been suspended. Are they going to be suspended indefinitely? How will I know when they are rescheduled?
This is a rapidly evolving situation. The health and safety of all employees, incarcerated individuals, visitors and the general public is a top priority.
As of March 13th, visitation at all correctional facilities, including extended family visits has been suspended and DOC has suspended all tours and events for four or more people.
All up-to-date information will be posted on the DOC’s COVID-19 page. We have posted facility specific restrictions on the DOC’s facility alert page.
4. I had scheduled an Extended Family Visit (EFV) with an incarcerated individual, but it’s been cancelled. Will I receive a refund for the EFV fee?
Yes. DOC has authorized refunds for EFV fees for EFVs that have been cancelled. Anyone who has already paid an EFV fund and needs a refund should contact the individual facility.
5. Is the Department of Corrections (DOC) still allowing attorney visits?
Yes. Just as all persons entering the facilities will be temperature screened and asked the screening questions, attorneys will be as well.
6. How do I schedule an in-person visit?
- You must be an approved visitor.
- Complete the COVID-19 Prison Visit Appointment Request.
- Ensure you have the following information about the individual you wish to visit prior to submitting a request:
- DOC number
- Prison facility
- Unit and visit cohort (tier, pod, wing, east/west, upper/lower, etc.) This information is known to the incarcerated person and the incarcerated individual will need to provide you the appropriate information.
- You will need to provide an email address that is current, and that you check frequently. Responses to your request for scheduling will be sent to the email address provided on your schedule request.
7. What if I’m not an approved visitor?
8. I’m currently suspended due to a violation of video visit rules, can I visit in person?
You may submit a request for an in person visit once your suspension has ended.
9. How long are in-person visits?
Visits are one hour in duration.
10. How often can an approved visitor visit?
Visitors may participate in a regular visit with an incarcerated individual once a month. Incarcerated individuals are allowed one visit a month. If there are multiple visitors on a list, the individual may want you to rotate visits.
11. When will the Department consider expanding in-person visitation even further?
The Department of Corrections will continue to review and evaluate the potential for further expansion of reopening in-person visitation based on guidance available from the Centers for Disease Control and the Washington State Department of Health. The department plans to conduct a review of current practices related to in-person visitation by June 30, 2021, and will provide additional information at that time.
12. How many visitors can an individual have during each visit?
At this time, two visitors may participate in a scheduled visit. At least one must be over 18 years of age.
13. Can our children come to visit?
At this time only one approved minor visitor, age 16-17, can participate with an approved adult who is authorized to escort that minor to visit.
14. What is a cohort?
Visit cohorts include one or more groups of individuals within a living unit. Depending on the prison facility, groups within a living unit may be referred to as tiers, pods, wings or a direction (e.g., east, west, north, south). If you do not know the housing assignment for your incarcerated individual, please reach out to the individual for further information.
15. How do I know what unit/cohort to select for scheduling with an incarcerated individual?
Incarcerated individuals know which unit/cohort and area they are in. Flyers have been posted in the unit if they are unsure of their cohort. Please request the information from the individual you are visiting so you know what to select for scheduling.
16. Who is responsible for scheduling and answering questions related to the scheduling of the visits? Who can answer questions about a facility’s visit schedule?
There are facility staff who have been identified as responsible for processing requests and scheduling the visits. When you’ve submitted a request to be scheduled, you will receive an email response from an appropriate shared mailbox. Should you have questions regarding scheduling a visit, you may respond to that email address. Please note that you must follow the process to schedule using the COVID-19 Prison Visit Appointment Request.
17. What happens if an incarcerated individual is transferred after a visit is scheduled?
The department has asked that when a visit is scheduled, transfer orders are held until after a visit has occurred.
There are cases when a transfer must occur. In those cases, the scheduled visit will be cancelled and visitors will need to submit a new visit request at the new location. When a visit is cancelled due to a required transfer, facility staff will do their best to notify the visitor(s), so it is important that visitors verify any scheduled visit prior to traveling to visit. Please make sure all contact information you provide in the visitor application is accurate and up to date.
18. What if the person I want to visit is housed in a unit/location that doesn’t show up on the schedule (e.g. Segregation, Hospital, etc.)?
Individuals housed in some locations are not able to participate in the visit program. If you do not see the unit as an option, then the incarcerated individual is not currently available to schedule for a visit. Please speak with your incarcerated individual to verify you have current information.
19. What do I do if the incarcerated person’s visit times are unavailable?
We know you’re excited to visit with your incarcerated person. However, space in the visit rooms is very limited. To ensure visit opportunities are as equitable as possible, requests are processed in the order received. If spaces are not open for scheduling, you may want to attempt to schedule for a time the following month.
20. Can I call to schedule a time to visit?
In an effort to provide an equitable scheduling process, all visitors must schedule online using the COVID-19 Prison Visit Appointment Request form.
If you are unable to utilize the online tool, we encourage you to request assistance from your friends or family members. If that is not possible, you may wish to check with local resource providers to assist (e.g. public libraries).
21. I am immediate family and am approved to visit more than one incarcerated individual. Can I visit each of them in one month?
You may visit each individual once per month, as long as the individual has not been scheduled for another visit that same month.
22. Can I schedule multiple visits at a time? (e.g. can I schedule a visit in June, one in July, one in August)?
No, visitors may only have one visit scheduled at a time. This will help ensure that all visitors have an opportunity to schedule a visit.
23. When should I arrive for a visit?
Visitors must arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the visit to be screened. Visitors who arrive late may not be allowed a visit.
During the check in process, COVID-19 screening protocols (includes answering questions and getting a temperature check) and visitor check in will occur. All visitors will be provided with a surgical mask upon check-in, which must be worn at all times within the facility.
24. Is an incarcerated individual aware of scheduled visits?
Yes, the incarcerated individual is sent a kiosk message notifying them of their scheduled visits AND the visitor will receive notification of the scheduled date and time. An incarcerated individual is not notified if a visitor requests a visit but is unable to be scheduled.
25. Can I request a special visit?
The process for special visits is at the discretion of the facility superintendent. Due to limited space and availability, special visits will only be considered in very limited, extraordinary cases.
26. What if someone is Spanish speaking and is unable to utilize the English scheduling tool?
The department is working on a version of the COVID-19 Prison Visit Appointment Request that will make it easier for Spanish speaking individuals to utilize.
1. Will a staff person contact me and alert me of my loved one's placement?
A staff member will not contact family; however, all individuals are given access to a cell phone and allowed to make calls to their loved ones.
2. How often will my loved one get to shower?
Your loved one will get to shower at least one time after their first seven days of highly restricted movement. Showering frequency is then dependent on their location. For more information about the shower protocols, please review the WA State DOC COVID-19 Screening, Testing, and Infection Control Guideline.
3. Will my loved one have access to books?
Yes, your loved one will have access to books if they remain at the work release, either in normal status or if in quarantine. If your loved is moved to medical isolation, they will have access to books if they take books with them.
4. Will my loved one be able to receive and send mail?
Yes, your loved one will be able to receive and send mail while housed at the work release facility, even if in quarantine. If your loved one is transferred to another facility to fulfill medical isolation status, the time period is expected to be temporary, and their best means of communication during that time will be the agency-provided cell phone.
5. How soon and how often will my loved one get to call me?
Residents of COVID-affected work release facilities are given access to a cell phone for communication purposes. They will have access to the provided cell phone to make phone calls to loved ones.
6. What personal belongings will my loved one get to take with them to medical isolation?
Your loved one will be able to take one large duffel bag of personal belongings, including books, clothing, and other items, with them to medical isolation.
7. How often will my loved one have access to laundry services?
Laundry services will be provided one time per week for individuals in remaining in a work release setting. Laundry services will be provided as needed for individuals transferred to a medical isolation facility.
8. What hygiene items will be provided to my loved one?
If a work release individual in quarantine or medical isolation runs out of a specific hygiene item, a replacement hygiene item will be provided from the indigent hygiene list.
9. How much human contact will my loved one receive?
As part of the COVID protocols, human contact is limited while individuals are in quarantine and medical isolation. They will have access to a cell phone to call as often as they would like. If your loved one needs or wants additional medical treatment, your loved one would declare a medical emergency and be taken to a local emergency room.
10. How soon will my loved one's medications follow them to their new area of placement?
Individuals who are moved to medical isolation will take their medications with them when they leave. At this time, medication refills needed during medical isolation are being filled by the Department’s in-house pharmacy.
11. Who can I contact for help if my loved one is not receiving what policy allows them?
Please contact your loved one’s community corrections officer if your loved one needs assistance.
12. What are the relevant policies governing these placements?
For information about placements as they pertain to quarantine and medical isolation, please review the WA State DOC COVID-19 Screening, Testing, and Infection Control Guideline.
13. What is the difference between quarantine and medical isolation?
Quarantine status is for individuals who have been identified as a close contact to an individual who has symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 diagnosis or has tested positive for COVID-19. Two or more positive tests within a given work release facility will lead to the entire work release facility being placed on a facility-wide quarantine.
Individuals on medical isolation status are individuals who are presenting symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 diagnosis or have received a positive COVID-19 test result. Medical isolation is a highly restricted movement that is required for 14 days to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 throughout the population and staff within the facility.