In light of COVID-19, better known to the public, as the Coronavirus there have been many changes in state, county and city operations. The Sheriff's department is no exception.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has issued all Sheriff’s and Jail Administrators a Technical Memorandum effective March 17, 2020.
The memorandum spells out COVID-19 general recommendations for all jails to follow during the pandemic.
“We are doing everything we can to follow the CDC guidelines,” said Sheriff Jeff Price.
Regardless of the pandemic the Sheriff’s department still has to do their jobs to serve and protect the people of Rusk County.
Jail Administrator Lieutenant Cassandra Shaw said, “We are taking every precaution to take care of our employees and those in our jails.”
To accomplish this task they have protocols in place such as cells for separation and constantly sanitizing 24/7.
The Sheriff’s department also has to deal with people that do not live in Rusk County that could possible be carrying the virus, or even worse, have the virus. So following the jail standards is paramount.
The general recommendations from the state are:
Anyone entering the facility must be screened including law enforcement officials, attorneys, arrestees, and any visitors.
Facility staff is to be screened at the beginning of each shift. Movement of inmates is to be limited. Work details for inmates are to be limited or suspended.
Ensure proper sanitation of all food service equipment. Screen all inmate workers before beginning a work detail, especially kitchen and laundry workers. Kitchen and food service workers must adhere to hygiene standards and hand washing techniques.
Inform staff and inmates of proper hand washing techniques as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Inmates should be provided cleaning supplies multiple times daily for wiping down tables, benches, sinks, toilets, and phones in an effort to prevent widespread infection.
Explore options for releasing non-violent misdemeanor offenders with local county/district attorney. Explore options with local arresting agencies regarding ‘cite and release’ for those who commit non-violent crimes in order to reduce number of individuals booked into the facility.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards also issued a COVID-19 Inmate Screening form for the department to use. The form has two steps, a travel screen question and if tested positive question. This form is subject to change based on new information about the virus.
Sheriff Price said, “TDC has new protocols for accepting prisoners from the Rusk County Sheriff’s office.”
Across the State of Texas all peace officer departments is having to change their normal operating procedures as a result of COVID-19.

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