COVID-19 precautions taken at Jackson County Jail

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (KBSI) – The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson County State’s Attorney released a joint statement Tuesday about COVID-19 precautions taken at the Jail County Jail.

As of Jan. 25, the Jackson County Jail was operating at a 75% capacity, but about 89% of the inmates awaiting trial in the jail were arrested on charges relating to violent crimes and/or use of firearms.

When the pandemic first began, the sheriff’s office took recommended measures by the Illinois Department of Public Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The sheriff’s office installed ionizers on the return air systems and deployed peroxide solution misters to help kill and prevent the spread of airborne contaminants. N95 masks were issued to all staff for mandatory use and masks were also issued to all inmates who desired them. These measures continue.

“Our priority is maintaining the health and safety of all Jackson County citizens” State’s Attorney Cervantez said in a news release.

The Jackson County State’s Attorney’s Office work closely with local law enforcement to determine, on a case-by-case basis, which arrestees were sufficiently dangerous so as to require incarceration for the safety of the public. As of this date, the Jackson County Jail is operating at a mere 75% capacity, but approximately 89% of the inmates awaiting trial in the jail were arrested on charges relating to violent crimes and/or use of firearms.

“COVID-19 has presented major challenges to our jail staff, but we have been able to overcome those challenges by working cooperatively with the State’s Attorney and the Jackson County Health Department” said Sheriff Robert Burns.

When a person is arrested and taken to the Jackson County Jail, the arrestee is tested as soon as is reasonably possible after intake, using tests provided by the Jackson County Health Department. The arrestee is then quarantined until a second test can be performed. Five to seven days later, the jail nursing staff perform a second test. If the inmate’s test is again negative, he or she is moved to the general population.

Inmates who test positive are quarantined and given medical treatment. So far, no inmate has been so ill as to require transport to a local hospital, but the jail has procedures in place to make such a transport when the doctor deems it medically necessary. The jail had no positive tests for the first four weeks of December. One inmate tested positive the week beginning December 28, 31 tested positive the week of January 5, and four tested positive the week beginning January 12. The increase of positive tests coordinated with the increase of positive tests nationwide. Throughout the pandemic, the Jackson County Jail has been inspected by the Illinois Department of Corrections and the US Marshall Service. Neither raised concerns about the jail’s COVID mitigation measures, according to the joint statement.

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