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Wyoming closes prisons to visitors, adds additional screening
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Wyoming closes prisons to visitors, adds additional screening

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Wyoming State Penitentiary

The Wyoming State Penitentiary is shown in 2016 in Rawlins. Wyoming has closed prisons to volunteers and public visitors.

Wyoming’s prisons on Wednesday closed to volunteers and public visitors, the Department of Corrections announced in a late-afternoon press release.

The agency made the change in response to the novel coronavirus, which had by Wednesday night infected at least 17 people statewide. None of the identified patients work or are incarcerated in state prisons.

Lawyers will be able to make only non-contact visits or video and phone calls to their incarcerated clients. The prison agency said that in certain extraordinary circumstances, the Corrections Department will be able to approve limited contact visits “when absolutely necessary.” The new policy will be re-evaluated on a weekly basis, according to the press release.

The agency said also that it had added additional procedures to screen for exposure to the virus among people entering the agency’s facilities, including employees, vendors and contractors. Any person deemed unsafe by the procedure — which includes taking temperatures and requiring response to a questionnaire — will be denied entrance, said Director Bob Lampert in the statement.

According to the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news outlet focused on criminal justice, Wyoming was the last state in the country to modify its policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal inmates — most of whom are not housed in Wyoming — have been largely prohibited from travel since last week. That agency said Thursday that none of its staffers or inmates had tested positive for the virus.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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