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Visits to state prisons canceled 'until further notice'

Visits to state prisons canceled 'until further notice'

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DES MOINES -- The Iowa Department of Corrections announced Monday it was canceling all visitors to its nine state prisons "to prevent the spread and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19," the agency announced this weekend.

"Effective immediately, visiting has been canceled at all state prisons until further notice," the department said in a release Saturday. "This is being done out of an abundance of caution for the department's vulnerable population."

IDOC oversees nine state institutions: the Anamosa State Penitentiary, the Clarinda Correctional Facility, the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women in Mitchellville, the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility, the Newton Correctional Facility and the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City.

"The DOC realizes the impact this can have on institution morale over time, and also knows the value of keeping inmates connected with their families," the agency said in the release. "To help address this concern, the department has been exploring reduced cost or free phone calls, reduced cost O-mails, and is working to establish the capability for video visitations."

The agency did not specify a timeline for any of those possibilities.

All volunteers activities were also suspended.

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Fayette County also announced it would suspend visits to its county jail on Monday.

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