From the office of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections:
(Baton Rouge) Due to the increased number of H1N1 (swine flu) cases confirmed in the United States and out of an abundance of caution, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C) is canceling offender visitation starting Friday, May 1, 2009 and continuing for up to two weeks. There will be no visitation at any of the state's 13 correctional facilities.
Facility tours and volunteer visits during this time are also canceled, as is an event planned at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center between incarcerated fathers/grandfathers and their children/grandchildren.
Parole Board hearings are canceled from May 4 - 8, 2009 as a precaution as well.
DPS&C Secretary James M. Le Blanc says the precautions aren't meant to cause alarm, but they are aimed at significantly limiting any threat of exposure to correctional staff and the offender population throughout the state. On any given day and especially during visitation, there are hundreds of people from across Louisiana and many other states that come in and out of our facilities that have contact with offenders and staff.
"The best way to fight the spread of the virus is through containment," said Secretary Le Blanc. "We regret the inconvenience this may cause but we feel that these steps are necessary to prevent possible spread of the virus from an unsuspecting member of the public to staff and offenders."
There are no suspected cases of the H1N1 virus within the offender population and the Department is diligently working to keep it that way. Corrections Headquarters is coordinating preparedness and response measures for all state correctional facilities. Regular updates are provided to both staff and offenders and the Department's Incident Management Center is now activated to track facility needs and responses.
DPS&C will provide updates to the public as necessary through the media and the department website, www.doc.louisiana.gov. The Department will make modifications to the timelines above as necessary.