Visitation cancelled at jail due to coronavirus

For the foreseeable future, the Washington Parish Jail is closed to all visitors because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The only exception will be attorneys for the various inmates. And attorneys wishing to speak with inmates will first need to fill out a health questionaire and submit to a temperature check. If admitted at that point, the attorney will then meet with the inmate in a visitation booth, with a glass panel between the inmate and the attorney.

In addition, everyone who enters the jail must submit to the same health questionaire and temperature check. This will include jail staffers at shift changes.

Jail Warden Jim Miller is currently working with district court judges in an attempt to reduce bonds so that low risk inmates could be released, decreasing the potential for Coronavirus exposure in the jail. However, Chief Deputy Mike Haley stressed that many inmates cannot be released. “We would not even consider releasing an inmate facing serious charges, such as violent offenses, domestic violence, or sex offenses,” he said.

Haley noted that all inmates are being monitored by a nurse and a physician. New admissions to the jail are being carefully screened to avoid introducing Coronavirus.

In addition, Haley said, because visitors are not being allowed, the jail’s inmate telephone provider is allowing each inmate a free 15 phone call each week. “Of course,” Haley said, “family and friends may still contact inmates by mail at any time.”

He said that the entire jail staff is taking the Coronavirus situation very seriously. “We are doing all we can do to minimize risk to the inmates, the public, and our staff,” he said. “Our officers are exercising due cauton when encountering any individuals, maintaining their distance as much as possible, and wearing gloves and other protective items.”

Haley said that the Coronavirus outbreak has affected more than just the jail. “All business sections of the Sheriff’s Office are closed until at least Monday (March 23), and if necessary we can continue the closure past then.” However, he said, anyone needing to conduct business with the Sheriff’s Office can call 985-839-3434 and they will be connected with the appropriate staffer. “Everyone is on duty,” he said, “but we are keeping our distance.” He also said that traffic tickets, sales tax, and property tax can be paid online at wpso.la.gov

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