EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office maintains the jail population at a lower level to avoid overcrowding, said Sheriff Raymond Loera.
An individual involved with a misdemeanor or a non-violent crime will likely get a citation, and not be taken to jail. But if the individual was involved in an aggressive crime, it would be different, according to Loera.
“We will take only felonies. Each individual will be evaluated and we will be selective of who will be taken to jail,” said Loera.
Chief Deputy Thomas Garcia said, “This was a directive for officers on patrol called ‘Cited & Released.’”
At the same time, those who were already in jail for misdemeanors (low-level inmates) will be released — with limitations approved by the courts. Each case will be reviewed, according to Loera. The ICSO is working closely with the court system on this issue.
“The jail will have a smaller population,” said Loera.
The staff and inmates continue to be informed and educated about the best practices to avoid the infection and spread of the coronavirus in the jail.
“We increased routine cleaning,” said Garcia. Disinfectants were used on a regular basis. Inmates working in the kitchen were cleaning themselves, according to Garcia. Officers were trained to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“Visitations were suspended,” said Garcia. This was applied to both family members and religious ministers who provide spiritual guidance and teaching to inmates.
However, there was one exception. Only the legal representative can visit an inmate, according to Loera.
Inmates still has the option of calling a family member or clergy with a telephone or an electronic tablet. “Actual visits were suspended to decrease infection of inmates from outside sources,” said Garcia.
According to Garcia, there were no confirmed cases at the jail. But even with precaution and education, he anticipates infection “but we’re trying to slow it down.”