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Frequently Asked Questions

by Rebecca Witte last modified Mar 26, 2020 09:23 AM
The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) is committed to ensuring the safety of our staff, the public and those within our custody and supervision. We are working closely with the Governor’s Office and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to monitor the COVID-19 virus and its potential impact to our agency. Guidelines and recommendations change frequently, and we will continue to update these FAQs with new information, as needed.

Why was visitation closed and when will it reopen?
The nature of this virus is such that it can be easily spread. By limiting the number of people coming in and out of our facilities, we will hopefully limit the chances of it spreading to your loved ones. Visitation will only reopen when we can do so safely.

What about your staff? How are you ensuring that they do not bring the virus into the facility?
Our staff are essential, and we need them to help ensure the safety of your loved ones. Both our staff and residents have seen education on the basic health tips for prevention of spreading germs. They have been instructed to stay home if they are sick or have recently traveled to one of the areas of concern, as highlighted by the CDC and KDHE.

What are you doing to be proactive in preparing for the virus to enter the prison?
We have been working with all of the wardens and Corizon, our health care provider, to ensure that each facility is as prepared as possible for this pandemic. Each facility has been taking stock and inventory of available supplies, resources and spaces that may be needed to implement KDHE recommendations.

What is KDOC doing to watch for the virus in prisons?
We are taking this situation very seriously. We are taking proper precautions through increased sanitization of high-traffic areas, doorknobs, light switches and more. We have limited access to the facility to only essential KDOC and contract staff. No family visitors, volunteers or mentors are allowed into the facility during this time. On March 25, we began screening all KDOC and contract staff upon entry to the facility. In addition to the normal screening questions, we will also be checking for elevated temperatures of staff and residents.

How will I know that my loved one is safe?
We know that the news surrounding COVID-19 is distressing, even more so when you are unable to see your loved one in person. To assist you in staying connected to your loved ones, each resident will receive two (2) free 15-minute calls and three (3) free 30-minute video visits per week. Any unused visits will reset each Saturday evening and on Sunday, accounts will reset with the number of free visits allowed. These free phone calls and video visits are temporary while visitation is suspended. As was the case prior to visitation being suspended, any residents being managed as a sex offender do not have access to video visits. For more information about video visits, click here

If my loved one has symptoms; how will they be treated by the medical team?
KDOC is following the direction of KDHE. All medical staff have been trained and informed about proper treatment.

What will happen if my loved one does test positive for Coronavirus?
If someone is identified as having the symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they will be moved to the infirmary and kept in isolation while they receive the necessary screening and possible testing. If their test comes back negative, they will be treated for their symptoms and likely moved back to their cell house. If the test comes back positive, they will receive medical care in accordance with protocols developed using guidance from KDHE. This may include quarantine to prevent the spread of virus.

My loved one notified me that they have symptoms, were seen by the medical team, but that they did nothing.
All of our facilities are screening in accordance with guidelines provided by the KDHE. There are times when symptoms may exist, and they are not caused by the coronavirus. Sometimes the proper treatment is just rest and monitoring. If you have a loved one who tells you that they have been having symptoms, but have not told medical staff, please encourage them to do so.

What if another offender tests positive for COVID-19, how will my loved one be protected?
Those that test positive will be isolated from those that are healthy.

Are the prisons on lockdown?
No, the prisons are not on lockdown. Incarcerated individuals continue to have access to programming and recreation while encouraging aggressive hand-washing techniques and social distancing, when possible. Depending on the number of staff members who become infected with the virus will depend on when and if we need to put the prison on lockdown. We will do our best to communicate this with families and provide as much notice, as possible.

Does KDOC provide soap and/or hand sanitizer?
All incarcerated individuals have access to soap and water at all hand-washing stations. Hand sanitizers are not historically provided due to the alcohol content. Currently, a consistent source of non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer is unavailable.   

My loved one was scheduled for a transfer to another facility. Will that still go on as planned?
We are limiting transfers as much as possible during this time. If a transfer is needed as a safety precaution for the individual, we will continue with the transfer. The individual will be screened prior to leaving the old facility and screened upon arrival to the new facility.

What about inmates being transferred to KDOC from county jails? How are they being screened?
Each inmate being transferred to KDOC will be screened for a fever, signs and symptoms of lower respiratory illness and their contact or potential contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients and/or those who may have traveled to a foreign country or area of the United States with a higher number of confirmed cases, as advised by the CDC and KDHE.

My loved one is employed. Will he/she be able to continue working during this time?
Many of our industry partners are small businesses in the communities that we serve. We want to be as supportive to them as possible, while maintaining a safe environment for our residents. Work assignments that have a high-level of community interaction, will be temporarily suspended to ensure that those workers are not exposed to the virus and then unknowingly bring it back into our facilities. Work assignments with little to no community interaction will continue for now. New information comes out every day regarding the virus so we will continually reevaluate each work assignment and make the best choices that we are able to with the information we have.

I’ve heard about shortages of medical supplies and equipment, has KDOC been impacted?
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing shortages across the globe that impact KDOC the same as other organizations. We have inventoried supplies on hand and are monitoring inventory levels weekly. We are seeing items such as thermometers, masks and hand sanitizer placed on backorder by vendors.

If my county is under a stay at home order and my family member is released from a KDOC facility during that order, will they be held longer if I cannot pick them up?
A person’s release date is not flexible and KDOC has no authority to keep them longer. It is difficult to project what different stay at home orders may be issued in the future so if this applies to you please contact your family members corrections counselor to determine the most appropriate transportation option.

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