Masks and COVID-19 tests are now required for anyone visiting an incarcerated individual at a prison in New York State. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision quietly updated its COVID-19 policy. Updated about a month ago, the new policy says,

For purposes of visitation, since social distancing is very difficult to maintain, we will reinstitute a mask requirement beginning with visitation commencing on July 13, 2022. This requirement will be in addition to the protocol for visitors to test negative prior to visiting. The Department will continue to provide an at-home test kit to all visitors. Those visiting in an outdoor visiting area, will be permitted to remove their mask.


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The department says it will provide home COVID-19 tests to all visitors since a negative test must be provided for visitation. It's unclear how visitors are supposed to get the tests or how long before they visit they will get a test. The department will stop temperature checks,

With this change, we will also discontinue the entrance health screening/temperature check and will return to normal visiting capacity/procedures. However, we will continue to provide an at-home test kit to all visitors and require that they test negative prior to being allowed to visit.

Family members who are visiting an incarcerated individual through the Family Reunion Program must be vaccinated,

All approved FRP participants, age 5 and older, must be fully vaccinated to participate. All participants over the age of 5 must provide a copy of their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or a screen shot of their vaccination record via the NYS Excelsior App, documenting that they are fully vaccinated. Family members can either print the screen shot from the Excelsior App, which proves they have been fully vaccinated, or make a copy of the Official Vaccination Record Card. Documentation can either be e-mailed to the FRP Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator (ORC) at, or it can be mailed to the attention of the FRP ORC at the facility where they are participating in the program.

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These 7 Prisons Are The Most Violent In New York State

New York released a report with the most recent number of violent assaults on inmates in state prisons. There were 134 inmate deaths noted in the report, although it doesn't break down the prisons where each death occurred or who caused them. Here's a look at some of the general violent incidents reported for 2020, which is the most recent data reported by the state. Compared to 10 years ago, inmate assaults have almost doubled. In 2011 there were 666 and in 2020 there were 1,205 reported. These numbers do not include inmate assaults on staff members. Overall, the number of unusual incidents includes things like assaults, deaths, accidents, sexual misconduct, and disruptive behavior.  According to the state,
"The number of unusual incidents has increased 132% from 5,980 in 2011 to 13,870 in 2020. These higher incident numbers were largely due to increases in assaults on incarcerated individuals (+81%), assaults on staff (+86%), contraband (+130%), disruptive behavior (+372%), and staff use of weapons (+1,035%)."
  In 2020, 1,836 weapons used to cut or stab, including ice picks, razor blades, can lids and shanks were discovered in state prisons around New York.

Gallery Credit: Yasmin Young

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