Custody Division is taking every necessary precaution to keep our personnel safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. In late February 2020, Assistant Sheriff Chase along with custody executives including CHS (Correctional Health Services) developed strategic plans as well as contingencies in the event the pandemic spread throughout the jails.
Key Drivers in reducing COVID-19 in custody personnel and inmates.
LASD identifies COVID-19 inmate patient in jail system; Immediately separated & limited interaction with others.
Several weeks ago, with the knowledge that COVID-19 would likely spread in California, the Sheriff’s Department and CHS put extensive measures in place, including dedicating housing areas to become isolation and quarantine space, and screening incoming inmates outside before entering the Inmate Reception Center (IRC) facility. Inmates brought to the IRC who responded “yes’ to the screening questions or displayed symptoms were masked and isolated in the on-site Correctional Treatment Center (CTC). Newly arrived arrestees who were asymptomatic, but who reported close contact with infected people, were masked and placed in quarantine if appropriate. Inmates who display symptoms or reported close contact with infected people, in the future will be isolated or quarantined as appropriate.
The inmate patient who tested positive has been in a single-man cell since his arrival at the jail and has had limited interaction with other inmates and staff. This patient is receiving appropriate medical care. Other inmates in the surrounding cells are now quarantined and will be watched carefully for the development of symptoms and have been educated on symptoms and precautions. Staff who will interact with these inmates have received instruction on how to properly use their personal protective equipment.
The Sheriff’s Department and CHS are dedicated to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the jails. Keeping public safety in mind, and focusing on vulnerable populations., the Sheriff’s Department has worked with its partners in the Superior Court, District Attorney’s office, and Public Defender’s Office to strategically reduce the population of the jail. As population in jail modules is reduced, the Sheriff’s Department is minimizing movement and allowing inmates to remain in de-populated, decompressed housing areas. Inmates are also being educated continuously about COVID-19 symptoms and precautions. Inmates accused of serious or violent felonies are not being released.
The Sheriff’s Department and CHS are working with other County Departments and community based organizations to link vulnerable people being released from jail with appropriate resources, including housing as well as medical and mental health treatment. They will continue to follow the guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on the isolation and quarantine of the inmates in their care.
Additional Cleaning, Sanitation, and Medical Isolation Procedures
The Los Angeles County jail system has implemented additional cleaning, sanitation, and medical isolation procedures in an effort to protect the county jail population form contracting COVID-19.
If an inmate is suspected of having coronavirus, they will be assessed by Correctional Health Services medical staff who make the determination of appropriate quarantine housing. A surgical mask will be placed on the inmate, and staff will follow Proper Protective Equipment (PPE) guidelines provided by the Center of Disease Control (CDC).
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services – Correctional Health Services unit conducts screening and testing of inmates within the jail system. Testing, if needed, is provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.