(BRANCHVILLE) – Branchville Correctional Facility and Warden Kathy Alvey would like to take this opportunity to thank staff and offenders for all their hard work during these uncertain times. As tensions and positive cases grow around the state and country, the Branchville Correctional Facility is flattening the curve and limiting risk and exposure to COVID-19 for all offenders and staff.
In the last two weeks, the Purposeful Living Units Serve (PLUS) Program has changed its focus from making quilts to making facemasks. Donations of material, elastic, hair ties and sewing machines are being used to make masks for each offender housed at Branchville as well as all employees. The donations have come in from community members, religious groups, and staff. The masks are to be worn at all times by staff as well as offenders.
The more than 2000 masks produced are just one way the facility is doing its part to flatten the curve. Daily, medical services screens staff, and offenders for fevers. Staff is having temperature’s taken every day prior to entering the facility and anyone who has a fever of 100 degrees or higher is sent home. Those sent home cannot return to work until they meet the Center for Disease Control requirements to return to work.
Offenders who are screened and have a fever of 100 degrees are quarantined for up to 14 days for monitoring. Positive cases are isolated in a different area, pending recovery from the virus. Each unit is being staffed by the same custody officers to reduce exposure risk.
The facility proactively took steps to social distance by offering no cross programming, temporarily canceling face to face visits, and canceling all volunteer programs. Offenders and staff have been tapped to clean continuously, practice social distancing during any movement. The sanitizer has been deployed in all areas and is available to all offenders and staff.
Branchville administration is continuously working to find unique ways to engage the offenders. Several volunteers have been sending bible lessons to the offenders they can do as an independent faith study. Branchville Volunteer Mentors have been writing letters to offenders they were mentoring, to help them cope with the stress of this time. Religious services are offering weekly services via tablets and videos. Education staff is still developing lesson plans and classwork, so offenders don’t fall behind in their studies. Pre Release is continuing the important work of helping soon to be released offenders find meaningful work, set up skype and phone interviews and participating in virtual job fairs. Indiana Correctional Industries, are running pallet shop, so the offenders can continue to work. The sawmill continues to make DNR cabins and other projects. Recycling Program has partnered with the Branchville Garden program to create a large garden, with produce being included in items donated to food banks, senior communities, and child care facilities. Finally, offenders are getting the opportunity to have stayed in touch with the family utilizing two free phone calls and one video visit each week.
Warden Kathy Alvey, stated, “Staff has shown amazing bravery and dedication throughout this process. We are doing everything within our power to keep this virus to the lowest numbers possible.” Warden Alvey continued, “We have done an outstanding job in doing so. Safety for our staff, offenders and the community is our top priority. We are in this together and we will get through this. I am proud of how well our staff is handling this pandemic as well as the offenders.”