Office of Media Relations
Department of Correction Administration Building
245 McKee Road
Dover, DE 19904
John Painter, Chief of Media Relations
The Department of Correction encourages and welcomes members of the news media to learn more about correctional issues through inquiries and/or institutional visits. Our goal is to establish and maintain favorable communications and relationships with the news media in order to help facilitate public awareness and understanding of correctional issues in Delaware. (Members of the news media are those individuals or organizations employed in the business of gathering and reporting news.)
Recognizing that news coverage of Delaware's correctional system often requires access to officials, inmates and institutions; the Department will make every attempt to provide a timely response to reasonable requests for information and access to institutions. It is the hope of the Department that by being responsive to the needs of the media, they will strive to report correctional issues in a thorough, accurate and responsible manner.
The Chief of Media Relations is responsible for handling all media inquiries and serves as the central contact concerning Department operations, policies and procedures. Requests for information will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, the Chief of Media Relations issues all Department press releases, organizes press events, and acts as the Department's official spokesperson.
In the event of an incident, the Office of Media Relations will work to disseminate information to media outlets in a timely manner while acknowledging security and institutional concerns.
Access to Institutions
The Department shall permit reasonable media access to its institutions. Access will be granted at the discretion of one or all of the following individuals: Commissioner of the Department and/or a designee, Institutional Wardens and/or a designee, Institutional security officials and/or a designee and the Chief of Media Relations. Access may be denied if it is determined the visit will compromise security, disrupt operations, burden staff or adversely affect inmates.
Qualified media representatives must contact the Office of Media Relations to receive instruction on how to visit one of Delaware's correctional facilities. Repetitive requests by individuals affiliated with a media organization may be denied.
All tours and visits will be coordinated by the Office of the Chief of Media Relations. Unannounced visits by media to institutions are discouraged and will be denied. Media are strongly advised to make arrangements for a visit at least five days prior to the date of the requested visit. In the event of breaking news stories or shorter deadlines, outlets must call the Office of Media Relations for access to institutions and DOC property. The Department will make every attempt to accommodate outlets in these situations. All visits must be approved by the Warden. In the Warden's absence, permission may be granted by the Commissioner, the Chief of the Bureau of Prisons, the Deputy Warden or any other designated official.
Reporters and photographers must have photo identification, pass all security checks and sign-in at the front office for entry into any Delaware correctional facility. While inside an institution, media representatives shall abide by all institutional rules and regulations and the conditions under which the visit was granted. Disregard of any rules, security safeguards or terms of the agreed visit will result in termination of the visit and the possible denial of future access.
In the event of an emergency during a visit, news media will be immediately escorted from the facility to ensure personal safety.
Access to Inmates
Media interested in interviewing or photographing a specific inmate is asked to contact the Office of Media Relations. To request an inmate interview, outlets must write directly to the offender at his/her assigned institution. If an inmate grants permission to be interviewed or photographed, he or she must state so in a written response to the media organization. The media outlet must then forward, by fax or mail, copies of both the original request and the inmate's response to the Office of Media Relations. Inmates agreeing to be interviewed and/or photographed must sign a consent form. Once this is complete, the Office of Media Relations will arrange the interview and notify the outlet. If an interview is arranged, the Office of Media Relations will advise the outlet of the guidelines for entering the institution. Please allow seven to 10 business days for a response.
The date and time of the interview will be determined by the inmate's visitation privileges, and any and all institutional restrictions may apply (e.g.; inmate is restricted to a particular visitation area, must wear shackles, an officer must be present, etc.).
Despite the inmate's consent to be interviewed, an inmate's negative, disruptive, non-compliant or threatening behavior can result in the Warden or a designee refusing to permit an interview.
Still or video photographs of groups of inmates are prohibited unless:
- Each inmate in the photograph cannot be identified, or
- Each inmate has signed a consent form agreeing to be photographed for use publicly by the specific media.
Other parties including but not limited to authors, educators and college students will be considered for access to offenders and institutions on a case-by-case basis. The Chiefs of Media Relations and Community Relations, along with other DOC officials, will consider all appropriate requests.
To ensure that members of the press and others are held accountable for the conditions under which the visit or interview was granted, media representatives and others will be required to sign a "Terms of Agreement Form".
Failure by an individual to follow the rules governing a visit to a Delaware correctional facility or with an offender in the supervision or custody of the DOC may result in the denial of future privileges with the DOC and/or criminal prosecution.