Michigan prisoners can now attend funerals virtually

Prisoners in Michigan can virtually attend funerals of immediate family members.

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced the new way to attend funerals Monday.

Prisoners will have to receive approval. Once approved, they will be in an area away from other prisoners during the funeral. An employee will supervise the viewing.

Prior to the video option, prisoners could only attend funerals in person if they were a low-security offender and had an off-duty staff member volunteer to escort them. If no staff volunteered, the prisoner would have to pay an employee's salary, benefits, travel, and other costs in order to attend the funeral.

If a funeral home charges for video services, the prisoner will pay for it.

"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."