BILLINGS, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte visited Montana Women’s Prison today as it reopened to visitors and volunteers.
“The Department of Corrections took numerous, necessary precautions during the pandemic to protect the health and safety of the men and women under its care,” Governor Gianforte said. “With facilities now reopened for visitation, these Montanans are able to reunite with their families and loved ones.”
In-person visitation has been suspended for more than a year to keep the public, staff, and inmates safe from the risk of COVID-19. Today marks the first day of visitation at a DOC secure facility, with re-openings planned at other facilities later this month.
MWP was the first DOC facility to welcome visitors through its doors. Montana State Prison (MSP) will start accepting visitors April 29, and Pine Hills Correctional Facility (PHCF) will resume visitation for youth offenders on April 29 and adult offenders on Thursday, May 6.
This also marks the return of community volunteers to these facilities, like chaplains. DOC determines when visitors and volunteers may enter DOC facilities. County jails do not fall under the responsibility of DOC.
Resumption of visitation was coordinated in consultation with DOC medical staff, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and local health departments, and in accordance with guidance from the CDC.
“We’re thankful Governor Gianforte could join us at MWP on this special day to witness the reunion of these inmates with their family and friends,” said DOC Director Brian Gootkin. “Maintaining strong connections in the community is essential to successful reentry for offenders.”