The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has dramatically reduced its jail population after four inmates and 25 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
Chief Deputy Rick Minerd says the number of jail inmates at both jail facilities has dropped by about 32%, from 1,960 to 1,350.
“Writing summons, things like that are some of the things we’re taking advantage of, as opposed to an arrest situation, so that’s helped reduce the jail population as well,” Minerd says.
Minerd says the Sheriff's Office has worked with local courts to reduce court dates, so fewer inmates and other people are in the courthouse. And they’ve also started video-arraignments to minimize court appearances.
“We felt that was a good way of protecting, again, not only the inmates that are in close proximity of one another, but also the staff that is tasked with taking care of them as well,” Minerd says.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office says that it has a good supply of PPE, including face masks and N-95 masks, as well as cleaning supplies.
Minerd adds the four inmates who tested positive have been isolated from the general population. Half of the 25 staff members who contracted the disease have recovered and are back to work.
Minerd says it appears the governor’s state-at-home order, which began March 23, is helping to reduce crime.
“I know here at the Sheriff's Office, we’ve seen a reduction in terms of people who call 911 or ask for a police response, we’ve seen those calls go down by as much as 35-40% in the last month," Minerd says.
However, Minerd says domestic violence have not seen a decline.