Sheriff discuss protecting prison population from COVID-19

Lafayette Parish sheriff's office
Posted at 9:55 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 23:40:13-04

According to the Bureau of Prisons, at least two inmates at Oakdale have tested positive for COVID-19.

Those inmates are now in isolation to try and stop the virus from spreading. Now, we're learning more about the work underway to protect prison populations in Acadiana.

Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber said the precautions being taken across Louisiana and at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center are saving lives.

"The risk of an infection in the jail is a tremendous risk to us all," Garber said.

The Sheriff said he is taking every precaution when it comes to protecting the public, his staff and the jail population from COVID-19.

"Every deputy gets checked before each shift and before they enter. If we get something that takes off inside the jail, then we have a huge problem as a community," Garber said.

The Sheriff's Office closed public access to all facilities with the exception of the Tax and Civil departments. This means inmates cannot have visitors, but they are allowed to have remote video visitation.

The Sheriff's Office says on average 679 people are housed at the jail. Since the Coronavirus, that number has been reduced by 100.

"I've been working very closely with our 15th Judicial District Judges, the District Attorney and the indigent defender's office, the defense bar in general to get as many people out of the jail as possible," Garber said. "We have very, very strict protocols in place."

A Sheriff's Office spokesperson said agencies across Acadiana are trying to avoid booking new inmates and instead issuing more summons where possible.

"There's other guidelines that I've put in to place with local law enforcement leaders. I'm receiving a tremendous amount of cooperation from the police chiefs' and state police in this area as far as the guidelines that I've put in place. I just don't want to discuss those openly," Garber said.

If you have questions about the services the Sheriff's Office is providing, call 337-232-9211.