As of Tuesday, June 9, the Lincoln County Jail has begun accepting arrestees for more charges. The jail population had been decreased due to concerns of spreading the coronavirus.
Through continued community partnerships, the jail has been able to verify through testing if an adult in custody is COVID-19 positive or negative prior to housing. With that in mind, there is still a concern based on the reemergence of the infection as the county, state and the country begin to open up. By their very nature, jails are extremely susceptible to outbreaks and quick transmissions because of close proximity.
Sheriff’s office officials said that although social distancing is challenging in a corrections environment, it is the cornerstone of reducing the transmission of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. All sheriff’s office staff and inmates have been required to wear a facial covering, have their temperature checked once per day and, to the best extent possible, practice social distancing.
The sheriff’s office has evaluated its ability to allow local law enforcement agencies to lodge additional people when facility spacing and needs allow. While looking to expand the ability to hold individuals accountable, sheriff’s office officials also understand that jail is not always the best choice.
Sheriff Curtis Landers said, “We were fortunate to have programs in place like our pretrial release program and our COMET (Community Outreach and Mental Health Enhancement Team) program prior to COVID-19. These programs help facilitate a number of solutions to keeping our community safe while reducing our jail population due to COVID-19 concerns. This is an opportunity to further evaluate how we can address our adults-in-custody population while keeping the community safe.”
As of June 9, as jail space allows, law enforcement personnel are authorized to lodge persons charged with class A and class B felonies and all person-to-person — misdemeanor or felony — crimes, such as assault and menacing. In the future, additional phases will institute additional arrest authorizations as the testing for COVID-19 in the jail remains active, the jail remains stable and the community spread of COVID-19 is reduced.