Current COVID Policies: State Correctional Institutions
Updated: March 7, 2022


For men in custody, SCI Smithfield is operating as the reception center for the DOC to make sure people are COVID free before they are permanently placed. New intakes are housed for approximately 21 days, maybe longer if they test positive for COVID-19. (DOC protocol is that all new intakes are placed in an automatic 23 hour lockdown to control cross-infection.)

Testing usually happens upon arrival, on 7th day, and 14th day. After quarantine and multiple tests, if being transferred, people in custody are moved to SCI Camp Hill for classification and diagnostics, and then onto any other facility, determined by the DOC. Testing also occurs within 3-5 days of transfer out of SCI Smithfield.

Women in custody are quarantined at SCI Muncy. The same testing protocols apply.


Masks are provided to people in custody, which are cloth masks made by Correctional Industries. Alternative masks cannot be sent to people in custody.

Mask wearing is strongly encouraged for both staff and incarcerated people, but is no longer mandatory. Social distancing is strongly encouraged, where possible. Masks are required for those being treated for COVID-19 and is highly encouraged in areas in the medical unit with vulnerable populations.


SCI Muncy & SCI Cambridge Springs: offering Pfizer initial vaccines, Pfizer & Moderna boosters

All other SCI’s: offering Johnson & Johnson initial vaccine, Moderna boosters (Pfizer only available to those who received initial Pfizer vaccines)

*DOC notes they do not have the same capacity to store Pfizer vaccine*

A $25 incentive is offered to all people in custody for receiving vaccination and the booster shot (this incentive comes from the Inmate General Welfare Fund, which is funded by incarcerated people). Vaccination is voluntary for people in custody. 

Staff and correctional officers must submit to mandatory weekly COVID testing or provide proof of vaccination. 


The Estimated Infection Rate (EIR) is monitored at each facility. The higher the EIR, the more restrictive the facility will be in terms of cohort sizes, out of cell time, etc. These restrictions are not considered lockdowns, per DOC definition. 

Lockdowns only occur for: a deep clean, violence reduction initiatives (after a violent event occurs), certain safety issues (ie. missing key, compromised locks etc), or drill lockdowns (a certain number is required by the state of PA annually). If a lockdown occurs which is not a drill, in-person and video visits may be canceled until the situation that caused the lockdown is resolved. 

People in custody are separated by vaccination status. Blocks with unvaccinated people in custody will have access to programming, the law library, and video visits. People in custody who test positive and are symptomatic are placed into quarantine (people in custody may colloquially refer to quarantine as lockdown). 


In-person visiting is only available for vaccinated people in custody. For  in-person visits, all visitors will need to be vaccinated, or have a legitimate exemption. Visitors will self disclose that they are vaccinated or that they have a legitimate exemption when scheduling using the Keystone portal. DOC will not be asking for proof of vaccination when you show up at the facility, but we recommend that visitors bring photocopies or physical copies of their vaccination records or documentation of legitimate exemption just in case.

For legitimate exemptions, DOC Chief Counsel will be verifying and reviewing exemption documentation. Visits are still permitted while a review is ongoing. The Chief Counsel will reach out to you to verify your exemption; if you have not heard from the Chief Counsel’s office before your visit, you may still visit pending their review.

As of March 1st, incarcerated people who are allowed visits are permitted a kiss and embrace. Masking is recommended, but is not required for visitors, and visitors will have the option to be given a mask upon arrival at the facility.

Video Visiting is free. In order to schedule a visit, via video or in person, visitors must be on the person in custody’s visitor list. You cannot add yourself to a person’s visiting list; the person in custody must do so.