Nationwide, jails and prisons have replaced nursing homes and meat processing plants as coronavirus hot spots. Overall, the number of infections has as much as doubled at some jails and prisons, even as the numbers have plateaued elsewhere. 

Generally, inmate testing rates are low, even in “blue” states. California has tested about 7 percent of its inmates. Testing rates in New York are even lower. Additionally, in most places, the coronavirus response in these facilities has been uneven. Locally, Montgomery County officials characterize their effort as “day to day.” That sounds an awful lot like they are doing their best to address new risk situations as they come up and have  set into place procedure and protocol to protect all. 

Officials in both Robertson County and Montgomery County are doing the best they can to keep staff and inmates safe. That includes continual sanitization, social distancing when possible, and other protective efforts.

Unfortunately, if an outbreak occurs in a jail, all the social distancing and facemasks in the world can only limit it. They cannot stop it. So, if you or a loved one is arrested, the only way to keep absolutely safe is to work with the Clarksville, TN bail bondsman at Fizer Bonding Company.

Coronavirus Risks

The physical coronavirus risks are well-documented. This respiratory virus is similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) which ravaged parts of the world in the early 2000s. COVID-19 is almost as deadly, especially to people with pre-existing conditions, and much more contagious. 

Many people in jails or prisons have addiction issues and other pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, most county jails operate at or near capacity. This combination creates a great deal of stress and anxiety about COVID-19. This additional angst could contribute to an incarceration-related brain injury. This injury is something that most people in the free world do not have to deal with. But it’s a constant threat for jail inmates.

Incarceration raises cortisol (stress hormone) levels by as much as 30 percent among people with normal brain functions. As mentioned, many new inmates are already dealing with brain injury issues, mostly due to substance abuse but sometimes due to bodily injury from childhood violence. 

Unhealthy cortisol levels have a number of effects. Heart and respiration rates increase. Additionally, cortisol taps into stored glucose. As a result, people do not feel as hungry and might become disinterested in food and malnourished during this critical time. 

These stress-related brain injuries, which coronavirus fears exacerbate, affects not only the inmates themselves, but also their criminal defenses. Confused and stressed-out inmates are less able to cooperate with their lawyers and more likely to accept an unfavorable plea bargain arrangement just to speed up a resolution.

Grading Montgomery County’s Response

Generally, the Montgomery County jail operates at about two-thirds capacity. Most observers classify jails and other facilities as overcrowded when they hit 80 percent capacity. So, the jail is not technically overcrowded, but it’s close. As a result, effective social distancing is absolutely impossible. That’s a C+.

What about masks? Officials say they distribute masks to inmates. But friends and family cannot send masks, hand sanitizer, or any other package to inmates. Only letters and postcards make it past screeners. So, in this area, the county does not get a failing grade. But one would think a global pandemic would cause officials to alter the no-package policy. Or atleast accept protective wear from inmate family and friends as a general mail delivery to the facility, as a donation. Let’s call this one a C+.

Physical safety is next. By most accounts, Montgomery County is doing a fine job in this area. Coronavirus has put many jails on lockdown status. But that’s not true here. For the most part, inmates are free to move around. Occasionally, areas are off-limits so officials can sanitize them. Outdoor recreation is down to two hours a day, which is probably a necessary precaution. Work details are largely unaffected. There is always some room for improvement, but that environment sounds like a B+.

Finally comes testing and quarantine. All new inmates are temperature-screened and asked about COVID symptoms. If they fail either portion of this exam, they are quarantined for fourteen days in an “isolation pod.” We’re not exactly sure what that is, but it sounds rather ominous. The intake area has barriers, which is good news for arrestees, people booking in and booking out, families, and Montgomery County bail bonds agents.

Ideally, officials should test all new inmates and isolate them until the results come back. Temperature screenings and questionnaires are better than nothing but rather unreliable when you take into consideration that there are pre and post contagion and incubation periods for the coronavirus. Presumably, if current inmates exhibit coronavirus symptoms, they are screened. That all adds up to a C+ in the gradebook.

The bottom line is that Montgomery County’s coronavirus precautions earn a passing grade, and this is something for the county to be very proud of! 

Robertson County Response

As of April 2020, no Robertson County inmates had tested positive for coronavirus. That’s good news and bad news. It is obviously good that no one is sick. But the lack of infections might give officials a false sense of security. “The health and safety of my sheriff’s office team, the citizens of Robertson County, and inmates within the Robertson County Detention Facility is our top priority,” Sheriff Michael Van Dyke said recently. This attention to all citizens of the county is admirable. 

In terms of social distancing, Robertson County’s jail is slightly less crowded than Montgomery County’s. As a result, social distancing is a bit more possible (e.g. vacant tables in the cafeteria and day use room). Officials say they “encourage” social distancing in the county jail. That’s probably a C+.

Robertson County has the same mask restrictions as Montgomery County. However, Robertson County also has an inmate mask requirement. That additional protection moves Robertson County up to an A in this area.

Officials in Robertson County are also very diligent when it comes to sanitizing the facility as opposed to simply placing inmates on lockdown. And, bail bonds agents in Clarksville, TN still have unrestricted access to this facility. All that adds up to another A.

Testing and quarantine procedures are roughly the same in both counties as well. Robertson County screens inmates but does not test them, even when their time in quarantine expires. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a B.

Robertson County’s COVID-19 report card looks stronger than Montgomery County’s. And it is clear that, as Sheriff Van Dyke stated, inmate safety is a priority on his list.

In the coronavirus era, the best way for inmates to stay safe is to partner with Fizer Bonding Company (bail bond near me) helping you keep your freedoms and safety a top priority. Our professional bonding agents are available 24/7 every day of the year to get your tail outta jail and we practice Covid-19 friendly procedures. Our family-owned bonding service has filled the bonding needs of Montgomery and Robertson Counties for over 40 years. Fizer Bonding Company is a proud member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents. For more info about Fizer Bonding Company bail bonds, click here.

“We’ll get your tail outta jail!”

Fizer Bonding Company in Montgomery County Tennessee

(931) 449-9351

Fizer Bonding Company in Robertson County Tennessee

(615) 667-1109

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