2021 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Q&A

The Michigan Department of Corrections is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of staff, the public and those under our supervision. The following information will help address many commonly-asked questions regarding the MDOC's response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and preventative steps we're taking to help protect the health of employees, prisoners and those in the community. Updates and information regarding the MDOC and the current COVID-19 situation can be found at MDOC response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and preventative measures.

 

1. Is the MDOC allowing visitors at this time?

UPDATE: March 26, 2021: The department has resumed in-person visiting with testing requirements and revised protocols in place. Please click here for more information. Please review Director's Office Memorandum DOM-2021-26R6 for details on scheduling and in-person visiting protocols.

The department is also in the process of implementing video visitation at all correctional facilities. Click here for more information and for a list of facilities currently offering video visitation

 

2. Does this include visits to my local county jail?

The Michigan Department of Corrections does not operate or have jurisdiction over county jails. Please contact your local county or sheriff's office for information on county jails.

 

3. Will COVID-19 disrupt or delay the transfer of inmates between facilities?

During this time, transfers between facilities will not be authorized without the approval of the Assistant Deputy Director or higher.

 

4. Will the MDOC continue to process paroles and release prisoners as scheduled?

The MDOC has and will continue to process paroles and release prisoners as scheduled.  The Parole Board continues to interview eligible individuals.  

 

5. Is the Parole Board still having public hearings?

The Parole Board has started to schedule public hearings, which will be held remotely, while ensuring those who need it have access. Links to these public hearings and information on when they are taking place are being provided on our website here.

 

6.‚Äč Is the parole board still having parole interviews?

The parole board will continue to conduct parole interviews via video conference as scheduled at this time.

 

7. Can representatives still attend parole board interviews?

Prisoners are allowed one representative at Parole Board hearings, but the representative may only attend via telephone or other available electronic means. Please contact the facility the prisoner is housed at to see about options to phone in.

 

8. Are attorney visits allowed?

Yes, attorney visits will continue at this time. All are subject to the same screening as facility staff.

 

9. Is the department offering enhanced communication services during this time?

  GTL is offering a free, weekly call through the end of 2021.

 

12. Are deliveries of food and cleaning supplies still being accepted at the facilities? People are  worried there is a shortage of food or sanitation supplies.

Yes. Deliveries continue as scheduled. The MDOC currently has adequate supplies of food and sanitation items and is monitoring supply levels continually.

 

13. Will inmates still get their SecurePak orders?

Yes. SecurePak is on schedule.

 

14. Is MDOC handing out bars of soap? What precautions is MDOC implementing regarding inmates washing their hands longer?

All prisoners have access to soap. We have increased soap in bathrooms as well as have directed MSI to increase production. Soap has been distributed to prisoners and the prisoners have been told that if they need more soap they only need to ask. Additional soap will be provided at no charge. CDC posters detailing proper hygiene practices have been posted in the prisoners housing units and have also been recreated digitally so they play on tv screens throughout our facilities. These are the same posters you will see in your community and throughout State of Michigan office buildings.

 

15. What is the department doing to encourage social distancing in the facilities?

The department continues to urge prisoners not to gather in unnecessary small or large groups and to practice social distancing when possible. We are running smaller groups, such as programs and classrooms, and we have limited the number of people going to the chow hall at any one time so we can seat prisoners further apart.

                  

16. Are prisoners being tested for COVID-19?

Yes. More than one million prisoner tests have been conducted since the start of the pandemic, and Michigan became the second state in the nation to have tested every prisoner. Prisoners are now tested whenever they are transferred, paroled, scheduled to go off-site for appointments, or housed in a location where the department sees an increase in positive cases

 

17. Do you have tests on site?

The department has secured testing kits so the prison population who meet the criteria can be tested quickly.

 

18. Do prisoners have to pay to get tested?

No.  Co-pays will be waived for any prisoner being tested for COVID-19.

 

19. Are prisoners still receiving regular health care, dental care, and medications?

Consistent with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-17, the MDOC previously postponed all non-urgent and emergent healthcare visits. To be clear, if a prisoner was sick, they were still seen. Appointments for chronic care cases and med lines continued to operate and medication renewals continued as well. Now that Executive Order 2020-17 is no longer in effect, routine medical and dental visits, including annual health care screenings, have resumed. 

 

20. My loved one has a scheduled release date. Am I still allowed to pick them up at the facility?  Can I bring them clothes to change in to?

Yes, as of March 23, 2020 family and friends of prisoners who are being released may still pick them up at the facility. We are asking that you remain in the parking lot until they come out. The facilities will provide dress out clothing for prisoners being released.

 

21. Are the classes that inmates take also cancelled?

The Department has developed plans to continue offering recommended programming in a safe manner at all facilities.  While individual programming groups may need to be paused due to COVID-19, safeguards are in place to promptly restart and complete programming to minimize the impact on participants.  The department continues to place prisoners into programming based on their parole board eligibility date and is monitoring programming waitlists statewide on a weekly basis.  College classes will begin returning to a face-to-face format in the Fall of '21 at many sites, but distance learning may continue at some sites for the upcoming semester

 

22. Is extra care going into cleaning prisons and sanitizing cells?

Facilities have undergone increased and more frequent cleaning. Bleach was also authorized for use to clean all facilities. Additional soap is being provided for prisoners and in the bathrooms. Cleaning products have been placed next to the phones and in other high traffic areas.

 

23. What actions are being taken to protect officers?

For staff working in the facilities, all will be asked a series of screening questions and will have their temperature checked before being allowed entrance into the prison. For those with a temperature above 100.4, they will not be allowed to work. Information on prevention has been provided to the prison population and MDOC staff.  Facilities have undergone additional and more frequent cleaning of the prisons and the use of bleach has been authorized. The MDOC has provided masks to all prison employees and they are required to wear them at all times during their shift. They can also bring in their own PPE if they prefer it over what the department provides.

 

24. Are you going to release prisoners early?

No. The MDOC has no legal authority to release prisoners before their earliest release date. The parole board continues to operate and is working to expedite paroles for parole eligible prisoners. 

 

25. I'm a staff member and I had training and/or out of state travel scheduled. Is it cancelled?

No out-of-state business travel will be allowed until further notice. All in-state business travel should be for essential matters only. We are encouraging staff to refrain from conducting large meetings and instead use email or conference calls. If you had any travel or training scheduled, please speak with your immediate supervisor.

 

26. Are you testing prisoners for Covid-19 before they are released on parole? 

Yes. All prisoners set to parole must take a Covid-19 test before being released if they have not tested positive in the previous 90 days.