New measures implemented in prisons amid COVID-19


OLMITO, Texas – COVID-19 poses a heightened threat to correctional facilities across the state which is why they are required to follow new measures to help reduce the spread. 

It may be the start of a holiday weekend but at the Carrizalez-Rucker Cameron County Detention Center in Olmito, doors remain closed to the public.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio says the change is for the safety of jailers, staff, and inmates. 
His administration is following a number of requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus at the correction center. 

“We started since March 15. Not a lot of visitors come and visit the inmates,” said Sheriff Lucio, explaining the new measures that have been implemented into the county prison.

One of the changes is making more room and letting go of inmates with minor Class B misdemeanors.

We started to get rid of many as we possibly could and we did. The jail’s capacity is 1,700. Right now we have about a thousand,” he added.

With several inmates being released this gives them more space to separate inmates in cells and also isolate them if needed.

“We set up a big tent outside with a medical professional there. Again, prior to that, we have been checking on the inmates coming in and out, it’s mandatory that they be outside the jail,” he said.

“We check them out and if they check alright then they go inside and we book them. If for whatever reason their temperature is 100 or over we send them to the hospital and until they get clear from the hospital, then, we let them in.”

They have also limited social interactions by adding digital hearings where they will be arraigned by a judge through a video call.

Along with enhancing hygiene practices, and requiring jailers and staff to wear masks and maintain a distance from each other at all times.

“We will continue to practice that and any other idea that the health department may have or the emergency management may have we will do it to make sure everybody stays healthy,” Lucio said.

A responsibility to protect and serve the community that comes with the badge.

While we have been unable to get a hold of the Hidalgo County Sheriffs Office, Sheriff Lucio says the new measures require all jails and prisons in the state to follow by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

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