The Lincoln County Jail will begin accepting arrestees for more charges as of today, June 9, 2020. Through continued community partnerships the Lincoln County Jail has been able to verify through testing if an Adult In Custody (AIC) is COVID-19 positive or negative prior to housing. With that in mind, there is still a real concern based on the reemergence of the infection as our County, State and the Country begin to open up. Jails are extremely susceptible because of their very nature for outbreaks and quick transmissions because of close proximity.
Although social distancing is challenging in a corrections environment, it is the cornerstone of reducing the transmission of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. All Sheriff’s Office staff as well as our AIC have been required to wear a facial covering, have their temperature checked once per day, and to the best extent possible, practice social distancing. The ability to institute these precautionary measures allows the management team to evaluate facility and community needs on a consistent basis. The goal is to balance safety in the community with safety in the jail.
The operational needs of our facility and community safety remain our priority. The jail serves as a functional component of the criminal justice system. We understand the need to operate a safe facility while also ensuring our community feels safe. Our process will require gradual customizing and prioritizing arrests so we can balance our housing capability, address our classification concerns, set up pretrial justice for success and not overwhelm them with clients they won’t be able to recommend for release. We want to hold those accountable who are taxing the criminal justice system with multiple arrests, support our local and out of county agencies by transporting wanted subjects into and out of our county on holds and send the message that accountability and community safety is our priority.
While evaluating current practices and addressing community needs, we have further evaluated our ability to allow law enforcement partners to lodge additional individuals when facility spacing and needs allow. As we gradually phase in these additional charges, we continue to educate and talk with our staff as well as our partners about the underlying nature of the arrest. As a community partner, we are looking to expand our ability to hold individuals accountable but also understand that jail is not always the best choice. We know, if we are able to address the underlying cause, assist the individual with getting the resources he/she needs then over time we will not only reduce our facility population but we will also ensure a safer community for everyone.
Sheriff Landers stated, “We were fortunate to have programs in place like our pretrial release program and our COMET (Community Outreach and Mental Health Enhancement Team) program prior to COVID-19. These programs help facilitate a number of solutions to keeping our community safe while reducing our jail population due to COVID-19 concerns. This is an opportunity to further evaluate how we can address our AIC population while keeping the community safe.”
Effective Tuesday June 9, 2020 (as facility spacing allows) law enforcement will be authorized to lodge A and B felonies; and all person to person (misdemeanor or felony) crimes (this includes all assaults, menacing, etc). In the future, additional phases will institute additional arrest authorizations as the testing for COVID-19 in the jail remains active, the jail remains stable and the community spread of COVID-19 is reduced.