Bartholomew County Jail officials made changes, in March, 2020, in their attempt to keep Covid out of BCJ.
Today, there are a total of 211 inmates with 91 inmates testing positive (since Saturday) and 4 jail employees.
Over the weekend, Indiana State Health Strike teams came to BCJ to test all inmates and employees. Four inmates refused to be tested. Those four inmates are now in quarantine as well. BCJ is on lockdown until (at least) the end of February, 2021.
Staff continues to move cell blocks in an effort to keep those who tested negative safe and to quarantine inmates who tested positive. Medical staff continues to monitor all inmates and remains on call 24/7.
BCJ leadership continues to work closely with the Bartholomew County Health Department, the Indiana Sheriff’s Association, Columbus Regional Hospital and other Sheriff’s Departments in order to find “best practices” for keeping inmates and staff safe.
Since March, 2020, sanitation inside the jail has been increased. Inmates are required to wear masks and everyone is screened prior to being booked into BCJ. BCJ employees are also screened, required to wear masks and PPE when entering cell blocks.
Covid is not a “get out of jail free card”. Families are calling frequently asking for their loved-one to be released. Only those with less than 30 days to serve and who are no threat to the community, are considered for early release. Early release is not up to jail staff. Judges, the Prosecutor, Probation and Parole are working diligently to help BCJ control the number of inmates who can be released.
“Covid is not an automatic release” said Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers. With the exception of attorneys, no one has been allowed in BCJ for many months. Today, no one, including attorneys, is allowed inside BCJ. Meetings with attorneys and their clients will be done via Home Wav and telephone conference.
Sheriff Myers is asking that family members not call the jail to request that their loved one be released. Each inmate will be given 15 minutes a week to call family at no charge. Funding for the phone calls will be paid with commissary funding which is non-taxpayer dollars.
“The jail is our number one responsibility”, said Sheriff Myers. If needed, these positions will be filled with deputies, reserve units and administration. “Everyone at BCJ has done a good job managing these illnesses and we all take this very seriously”. “We have put a lot of safety precautions in place over the past (almost) year but, unfortunately, this may get worse before it gets better”, added Sheriff Myers.
Jail officials have spoken to federal and state representatives about Covid vaccines for inmates; however, it appears (at this point) vaccinations are not a priority for BCJ inmates.
“I want to reemphasize that we are not closing the jail, inmates are not going to be automatically released and anyone who breaks the law will be arrested”, said Sheriff Matthew A. Myers.