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Cancellations Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

SHERIFF GUSMAN ISSUES STATEMENT ABOUT INMATE RELEASES, OTHER MATTERS AS PART OF OPSO’S PROACTIVE STEPS TO COMBAT COVID-19

NEW ORLEANS - 03-19-2020

Following is a statement from Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman regarding efforts by the Sheriff's Office to combat COVID-19:

Inmate Releases

"On March 17, the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office implemented its release plan; similar to the one the agency utilizes as a tropical storm or hurricane approaches Louisiana.

"The Sheriff's Office, has released 23 inmates who were being detained on minor charges. We also have another 16 individuals in custody on municipal offenses, that includes a domestic violence charge, and thus, are not eligible for release, pending further court action.

"We have no individuals in custody on traffic offenses. Our staff is reviewing a list of all state-law misdemeanors in custody and is individually contacting those respective judges.

Inmate Health and Safety

"Our medical department, Wellpath, has developed a coronavirus screening process for all new arrestees, current inmates and anyone who enters our facilities. This includes temperature screenings with the latest technology and several targeted questions surrounding their activities and interactions over the past 14 days.

"In keeping with normal routine, we are dispensing soap and other toiletries to inmates and staff is directing inmates to wash their hands frequently. Inmates are also being shown training videos on handwashing and other steps they can take to stem the spread of the virus.

"The Sheriff's Office is also working to ensure that it is equipped with enough supplies to combat COVID-19 on a prolonged basis.

"In the event of a suspected or confirmed case at the Orleans Justice Center, we have an established protocol to test individuals for the virus and report cases to the CDC and Department of Health immediately. Accommodations have also been made to quarantine any suspected individuals in designated cells.

"Based on screenings of all inmates, there are no presumptive or confirmed cases at this time.

Attorney-Client Visitation

"While we have had cancelled in-person attorney visitation due to the risk of the spread of the virus, we have taken other steps to ensure that attorneys have as much access as possible to their clients. We have allowed attorneys to add their mobile devices to the private call list, meaning attorneys using their cellphones can confidentially communicate with their clients.

"Attorneys can participate in the video first appearance and arraignment process to advocate on behalf of their clients.

Sheriff's Auction/Evictions Suspended

"The Sheriff's sale of foreclosed properties, which normally take place on Thursdays, has been suspended until further notice. The agency has also stopped evictions until further notice.

"As a result of the Civil District Court building being closed, the Sheriff' Office has also closed its Civil Division office and staffers will work remotely.

Access to OPSO Facilities

"At this time, volunteer and visitor access to OPSO facilities is suspended.

Communications

"OPSO has been proactive in disseminating information and taking steps to prepare our employees, contractors, visitors, volunteers and inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All OPSO employees have been notified of our full COVID-19 plan and are being urged to notify their supervisors and stay home if they are feeling ill.

"Again, the education and training we are providing to our staff and inmates cover COVID-19 fundamentals and prevention measures, such as handwashing and social distancing. More specialized and detailed instruction is being given to our intake areas and transportation staff.

"As an added educational tool for inmates and staff, OPSO has produced a series of videos that will be aired across the facilities via a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system. The videos focus on the severity of the outbreak and address how to identify signs and symptoms, ways to prevent the virus' spread and employee protocol surrounding COVID-19.

Sanitation

"Additionally, our staff is vigorously cleaning the facilities and hand sanitation stations have also been installed throughout the Orleans Justice Center."


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