The Alexandria Jail is slowly easing COVID-19 restrictions, and the Sheriff’s Office says it is looking at resuming in-person visitation between family members and inmates.
The jail population is hovering at around 250-270 inmates, said Captain Sean Casey. That’s an ideal figure, he said, since capacity is 338 and the extra space has been needed for distancing.
“The staff is tired of COVID,” Casey told ALXnow. “Everyone’s tired, but I have to say that they continue to show up each and every day, they do a phenomenal job under very challenging circumstances, and I couldn’t be prouder of how they dealt with this challenge.”
On May 1, the Sheriff’s Office opened in-person attorney-client visitation, which for more than a year has been restricted. Attorneys must contact the jail at least the day before their visit, and are asked to wear a face mask and be vaccinated (although it’s through the honor system and nobody will ask for proof). Throughout the pandemic, each inmate has gotten weekly 15 minute Zoom chats with their family or friends and an hour of free phone calls.
“We’ve been doing video visitation for all of our inmates,” Casey said. “We’re going to revisit in-person social visitation at some point in the near future. We’re trying to get a feel on how the attorney-client in-person visitation works out, making sure we don’t have any slip ups or issues with that. So far the inmates have been pleased with the video visitation visits, and there hasn’t been a clamoring from them to bring back the in-person.”
Casey, who is running unopposed for Sheriff in November, said that inmates still have to wear their face masks. Two general population housing units in the jail have also fully reopened and inmates are able to get more time out of their cells. Also, about 165 inmates have been vaccinated since January, he said.
“The CDC says that in congregate settings, especially jails, not to eliminate masks,” Casey said. “We are not planning on doing that anytime soon. We talked to the Alexandria Health Department, and they have advised against it. We are taking their advice. We’ve also talked to our medical staff and they’ve advised us to continue wearing masks in the jail, so we will continue to do it.”
Image via City of Alexandria