The Tennessee Department of Correction will allow visitation to resume at all 15 of the state's prisons this coming weekend.
It's the first time families and friends have been able to visit their loved ones in most of Tennessee prisons since in-person visitation was halted in March 2020 as the coronavirus spread across Tennessee and the U.S., according to Dorinda Carter, spokesperson for the department.
A modified visitation schedule will be implemented on Saturday, April 10, Carter said in a statement. The decision to resume visitation for visitors 18 and older was based on community data from the Tennessee Department of Health as well as vaccine administration at each facility, she said.
Officials said it's important to keep inmates and their families connected while making sure everyone's safe.
TDOC "is committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our staff, inmates, visitors and volunteers," Commissioner Tony Parker said. "We understand the importance of maintaining contact with family members and we have worked to ensure the lines of communication between inmates and their loved ones remained open during the pandemic."
Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, Morgan County Correctional Complex, Turney Center Industrial Complex and Mark Luttrell Transition Center briefly resumed visitation in late September and early October but stopped again in December in response to a statewide surge in coronavirus cases.
The virus impacted operations and visitation at all state facilities through 2020 as outbreaks started to appear in prisons across the state by mid-2020. As officials began widespread testing to track the spread, so many cases were identified at the prison in Bledsoe last April the small rural county was ranked No. 2 on the New York Times' list of hot spots.
Officials remain cautious.
In order to maintain social distancing guidelines, all visitors will be required to schedule appointments, Carter said. They will be required to wear masks, have their temperatures checked and respond to a series of COVID-19 screening questions before entry.
All inmates will be required to wear masks during the visits and have their temperatures checked prior to entering the visitation gallery. Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the area, she said. For more information and answers to frequently asked questions about visitation at Tennessee prisons, go to bit.ly/TNprisons.
Volunteer services have not yet resumed, but will at a later date, officials said.
Contact Ben Benton at email@example.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.
PRISON VISITATION SCHEDULING
To schedule a visit, contact the Tennessee Department of Correction facility directly:
Bledsoe County Correctional Complex
Days/hours: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. CDT
DeBerry Special Needs Facility
Days/hours: Monday 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT
Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center
Days/hours: Monday-Wednesday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. CDT
Hardeman County Correctional Facility
Days/hours: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-10 a.m. and 1 p.m.-3 p.m. CDT
Thursdays from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. CDT, call 731-254-6850
Mark Luttrell Transition Center
Days/hours: Monday-Wednesday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. CDT
Morgan County Correctional Complex
Days/hours: Monday-Thursday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. EDT
Northeast Correctional Complex
Days/hours: Thursday-Sunday 7 a.m.-5 p.m. EDT
Northwest Correctional Complex
Phone: 731-253-5116/731-253-5277 or 731-253-5130
Days/hours: Monday-Wednesday from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. CDT
Riverbend Maximum Security Institution
Days/hours: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT
South Central Correctional Facility
Phone: 931-676-5346 ext.72205/931-213-2152 (text)
Days/hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Wednesday from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. CDT
Trousdale Turner Correctional Center
Days/hours: Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-10 a.m., 1 p.m.-4 p.m. CDT
Turney Center Industrial Complex
Days/hours: Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. CDT
Turney Center Industrial Complex Site 2Phone: 931-676-2973
Days/hours: Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. CDT
West Tennessee State Penitentiary
Days/hours: Monday-Wednesday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. CDT
Whiteville Correctional Facility
Phone: 731-254-9200 ext. 40783 or ext. 40805
Days/hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. CDT
Women’s Therapeutic Residential Center
Days/hours: Monday-Wednesday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. CDT
Source: Tennessee Department of Correction