Davison Co. jail, sheriff's office playing defense against virus
The Davison County Jail is defending against COVID-19 cases, with few inmates currently within its walls and taking precautions to keep the virus out.
“I think we’ve got about as good a handle on it as we can,” Davison County Sheriff Steve Brink said this week when speaking to the county’s commissioners. “We’re stopping people at the front door and taking temperatures. We’re working very hard to keep it out of here.”
Jail Administrator Don Radel said the jail had as few as 16 inmates. It’s common for the jail to have daily population counts in the 40s and 50s.
“Our mid-winter slump was caught at the right time,” Radel said of the jail numbers. “But I’m sure we’ll get caught up at some point.”
The jail’s maximum capacity is 72 inmates, with each of the jail’s pods available to hold 18 inmates in individual cells. One of the jail’s four pods has been left empty in case they need to put a male with the virus in isolation. Two segregation cells have been left open in case there’s a woman who contracts COVID-19 and needs to be isolated.
Radel said local judges have worked to keep the burden off jails, keeping those arrested for non-violent charges out of the facility. They’re instead getting cited and assigned a court date.
“The only ones we’re getting is domestic assaults or other types of assaults or violent crimes,” he said.
Radel said the jail has a right of refusal with potential inmates “to a point.” He said if potential prisoners are sick, they are not admitted and are sent to the hospital. He said they are turning a few away, and said Davison County is being a little tighter with regards to taking inmates from another county to avoid passing along the virus.
“We don’t need anyone else’s problems,” Radel said. “In the past, we’ve tried to be accommodating to others but we’re trying to keep our numbers low and keep the ship as tight as possible.”
There have been a few virus threats, including among their own. Brink said he recently had a sore throat and was tested for coronavirus but that came back negative. Radel said the jail recently had a woman that said she had been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 but couldn’t prove it.
Brink said the sheriff’s office and the jail has a good supply of masks, gloves and protective equipment. He also said both departments have been rotating shifts for employees to limit contact between employees.
Radel also said the jail is in the process of building a plastic barrier for the 24/7 sobriety checkpoint that is located at the Public Safety Center. That will be a permanent safety addition, although the threat of the virus provided the impetus for the roughly $1,600 upgrade.
“Ours is a little more sturdy, a little more permanent than what you’ve been seeing at the grocery store,” Radel said.