Arapahoe County is working to keep its jail population down in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the facility, Sheriff Tyler Brown said.
There were no known cases of COVID-19 in the jail as of March 25, Brown said.
While the jail often averages about 1,000-1,100 inmates per day, Brown said he has been working with the court system to move people out. The current daily population is between 800 and 900, he said.
Brown said he has been collaborating with Michelle Amico, the chief judge of the 18th Judicial District, to lower bail amounts for many people charged with crimes in recent weeks.
“We're getting lower-risk individuals out, while still adhering to the Victims' Rights Act,” Brown said. “We don't want to put people at risk of being victimized again.”
Brown said inmates on work release, meaning they spend the night in the jail but can leave during the day to go to work, have been shifted to home detention with electronic monitoring.
Staff at the jail are monitoring the temperatures of all incoming and outgoing inmates and arresting officers, Brown said.
The jail's medical facility has two negative airflow rooms that can be used for isolating COVID-19 patients, Brown said, and jail staff are working to convert a day room into a potential isolation room.
The department's operations center is working with local hospitals to determine the availability of beds in case an outbreak overwhelmed the jail's infirmary, Brown said.
The department received significant donations of protective masks and gloves from the public in recent days, Brown said, and has been able to buy back more from licensed contractors. The personal protective equipment has been distributed to deputies and jail staff, and the department received enough donations to give some to South Metro Fire Rescue, Brown said.
Jail staff are also working with local agencies to try to find safe, sanitary places for people experiencing homelessness before they're released.
“We want to make sure everyone's needs are being met as well as possible,” Brown said.
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