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
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If you had a chance to enhance a child’s future with a time commitment of less than 2 hours a week, how would you respond? You have that opportunity right now to join over 200 Alexandrians as a reading tutor volunteer with the Alexandria Tutoring Consortium (ATC).
ATC tutors work with one child in kindergarten, first, or second grade in Alexandria public schools who need extra help with reading. Tutors meet with their Book Buddy 1-2 times each week for 30 minutes October-May at school, during school hours. Many struggling readers only receive one-on-one instruction through this program, and it makes all the difference. Last year, ATC served 195 children, of whom 82% ended the year reading on grade level and 96% made substantial reading gains. But the need is great, and we are still seeing learning lags from the pandemic.
This year, ATC plans to significantly increase the size of the program to reach over 250 students and to serve every elementary school in Alexandria. This is very exciting news, but we will only succeed if we can recruit more tutors. ATC trains you, matches you with a child, and provides ongoing lesson materials and support.
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