ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Department of Corrections is allowing attorney-client visits to resume within its facilities after a yearlong suspension related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department said visits can resume starting Wednesday, with limits. For example, the person who is imprisoned must be fully vaccinated and attorneys will be subject to screening, including temperature checks, the department said. Face coverings and appointments will be required.
For the past year, those in department custody have had to rely on phone calls from lawyers to discuss their cases, Alaska Public Media reported.
Anchorage defence attorney Rich Curtner, who is among a group of attorneys who have pushed for more in-person access, called the policy change a “big deal.”
“I think at least they recognize that the attorney-client constitutional rights for clients are important. And, you know, they have to be balanced with COVID risk,” he said.
More than 2,000 people in Alaska’s prison system have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic, department figures show.
More than 1,600 people have received at least one dose, about a third of the state’s imprisoned population, Alaska Public Media reported. Dr. Robert Lawrence, the department’s chief medical officer, said the state is working as quickly as possible to vaccinate more.
The Associated Press