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MDOC offers video option for prisoners attending funeral services

Prison bars
Posted at 10:40 AM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 10:40:37-05

LANSING, Mich. — Prisoners in Michigan whose immediate family members pass away will have a new option available to them in the form of attending the funeral service virtually through a video connection at the prison.

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced the new policy Monday.

“Any death is tragic and a cause of great sadness that only compounds when you are not able to pay your final respects with your family,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said. “While these individuals have broken the law, they are still human beings and helping them to maintain connections to family and to the community that most will someday return to are important steps to long-term public safety.”

While incarcerated individuals do not have a right to have an in-person or video funeral visit, wardens will ensure efforts are made to allow a prisoner to watch the funeral of an immediate family member through video whenever possible.

Once the prisoner has received approval, the video viewing will take place in an area that allows the prisoner to have privacy from other prisoners. A facility employee will also be present to monitor the viewing at all times.

A prisoner’s security level will not preclude them from attending the video funeral viewing.

Previously, in-person funeral visits were only available to lower security level prisoners and could only happen if there was an off-duty staff member interested in volunteering to work. The prisoner or their family would have had to pay all escort costs including salary, benefits, travel and any other costs incurred.

The revised policy went into effect Monday.