There's good reason for inmates at Iowa's state-run prisons to take shots in the arm and get a Coronavirus vaccine. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, starting in early July the Iowa Department of Corrections says all inmates who have been fully vaccinated will once again be allowed visitors. It would be the first time the ban was lifted since March 2020. Linn County will not allow face-to-face visitors at its prisons for the foreseeable future, according to a different Gazette article.
Those choosing not to get vaccinated will continue to be allowed visits only by video. 58 percent of Iowa inmates have been fully vaccinated, while 62 percent have had at least one shot, and among staff the rate is 56 percent. The Department of Corrections is using guidance applied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to long-term care facilities. While the incarcerated individuals would have to be vaccinated, their visitors would not.
It was to protect the health of inmates and staff, and to curb the number of coronavirus cases among staff at the prisons that made it important to restrict visitation as 700 employees have at some point contracted COVID-19, with two deaths among them.
There's another reason why officials say it's wise to now allow visitors once again. Many inmates are simply individuals who made mistakes and are now paying their dues, and you may be reading this with little or no sympathy for them. But, studies show inmates receiving visits are less likely to re-offend once released, and the more visits the better.
Of course, it's a somewhat different ballgame at the Anamosa State Penitentiary since the March 23 attack that killed two staff, guard Robert McFarland and Nurse Lorena Schulte. Until further notice, Anamosa is still on restricted movement, meaning inmates are only even allowed a couple hours outside their cells a day let alone the ability to have visitors, according to The Gazette. Free video visits are still available to all even after the visitor restrictions are lifted.