Published: April 3, 2020 at 1:05 PM
Dear Community Partners,
We hope you are staying well and healthy (both physically and mentally) during these very challenging times. Please remember that we are all going through this hardship and working to overcome this pandemic together. In this issue of IOLERO’s newsletter, we cover topics such as Covid-19 safety measures at the jail and courthouse, Community Advisory Council (CAC) meetings, mental health resources and resources for undocumented workers.
Quarantine Protocol at Sonoma County’s Jails and Courthouse
During the COVID-19 pandemic, IOLERO has been monitoring quarantine protocols and safety at the jail and courthouse. Below is a summary of the some of the quarantine protocols and safety measures that have been implemented:
- As of this morning, the jail population has been reduced to 816 inmates (Normally it is around 1150 total). Currently, there are 216 inmates at the North County Detention Facility and 600 inmates at the Main Adult Detention Facility. The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to work with the Court, Public Defender’s Office and DA’s Office to decrease the jail population through the release of inmates on their own recognizance (O.R.), electronic monitoring, straight early release and other measures.
- Sheriff’s Office management has increased janitorial services. Cleaning of surfaces in high activity areas including booking and court holding areas has been increased and a germicidal detergent that is effective against COVID-19 is being used. Courtrooms are being cleaned multiple times a day.
- At the jail, inmates have been educated about COVID-19 in the form of both English and Spanish fliers and in-person to ensure everyone understands the importance of cleanliness and hygiene with respect to COVID-19. In addition, information about COVID-19 symptoms have been placed in inmate housing areas. The jail medical provider, Wellpath, completed an informational PowerPoint presentation for inmates that has been uploaded to tablets used by the inmates in the modules. Inmates are regularly encouraged to inform staff if they have any symptoms so they can be medically evaluated.
- Staff are being screened by healthcare workers prior to their entry into either jail facility. Jail staff are being regularly encouraged to stay home if they feel sick to minimize any potential exposure to others.
- All visits have been suspended for the inmates. However, the inmates are being provided with some free phone calls to allow inmates to stay in touch with their loved-ones. Attorney visits continue to be accommodated by appointment, in a non-contact format.
- All program providers and volunteers have been advised they will not be allowed into the jail facilities until further notice. The only staff allowed into the facility at this time are those essential to daily operations.
- Inmates attending court are being transferred one module at a time to limit exposure to other inmates. The inmates are being placed in the courtroom using social distancing standards. Most arraignments are being completed in housing modules via video.
- The jail’s medical provider, Wellpath, has COVID-19 and influenza tests on hand for testing in the jail.
- The Sheriff’s Office has developed quarantine and isolation protocols for inmates displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
- The Sheriff’s Office reports that it is continuing to work closely with the Public Health Department, Risk Management and County Counsel to ensure the Detention Division is using best practices during the pandemic.
- Jail management reports that it is reviewing these procedures and practices on a daily basis.
Detention Facilities Communicable Disease Procedures
In the event of an outbreak of a serious communicable disease, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facilities shall institute quarantine procedures in coordination with the State and Federal health officials, with the purpose of preventing the spread of disease. The Sheriff’s Office communicated that inmates who test positively for COVID-19 will be housed in a negative air pressure cell. If and when all negative air pressure cells are occupied, inmates will be housed in the predetermined housing areas (FG/FA/FP or 401) for quarantine. For more information on Covid-19
IOLERO is a Resource for the Incarcerated
One of the changes implemented at IOLERO in the summer of 2019 was displaying IOLERO’s brochures at the jails. The brochures have been laminated and posted in each module, where inmates live, at the jail. IOLERO receives phone calls and letters from inmates on a regular basis advising us about complaints, concerns and conditions in the jail ranging from uncomfortable mattresses to more dire complaints. To date, we have not received any inmate communication regarding COVID-19 procedures or safety concerns. IOLERO continues to provide services and we are accepting complaints via phone and email during the Shelter-in-Place Order. To view our brochure, please visit our website: IOLERO/Who-We-Are
Due to the current COVID-19 quarantine, IOLERO’s April Community Advisory Council (CAC) meeting was canceled. Special Announcement March 17, 2020
Director of IOLERO, Karlene Navarro will be conferring with County Counsel and the Information Service Department (ISD) as to whether a virtual public meeting can be accommodated for IOLERO and the CAC in May. An IOLERO newsletter update will be sent out regarding the potential for a virtual public meeting in May. Please also check our calendar for meeting updates.
Mental Health Services
Did you know that if you or someone you love is having a mental health crisis, calling the police is not the only option? If you or someone you know are having a mental health emergency, you can contact The Department of Health Services’ Mobile Support Team (MST) directly or you can call law enforcement and request that they contact the MST. MST is able to implement mental health assessment services for community members in crisis. If MST is unavailable, you can request that law enforcement take the individual to the Crisis Stabilization Unit. For more information, click here: Crisis-Services
Many of our Spanish-speaking community members work in the service industry and are not covered by State and Federal safety net provisions. To assist undocumented workers who have lost their jobs or income as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Legal Aid at Work has compiled a list of known relief funds for undocumented workers: https://legalaidatwork.org/blog/relief-funds/
To read IOLERO’s other newsletters and updates, please visit our website: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/IOLERO/