Updated: Apr 24
The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office is meeting the challenges presented by the COVID 19 pandemic and has adapted its policies and procedures to protect staff and the county jail population. Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon, Jr. initiated COVID-19 planning on March 2, 2020 along with executive team.
COVID 19 and Sheriff’s Office Staff
The first case of an Officer diagnosed with COVID 19: March 23, 2020
As of April 24, 2020, 26 staff members and 1 inmate have tested positive for COVID 19 since the crisis began.
All staff that have tested positive for COVID 19 remain out for 14 days. They must then test negative. If so, they must see a doctor in our medical evaluation before returning to work.
Policies and Procedures
· A separate reception housing pod at the Yaphank Facility was set up for all new inmates.
· New inmates are assigned to a 14-day quarantine housing unit that includes limited
interaction with others and medical monitoring. In addition to quarantining all new inmates for 14 days, they are further quarantined within each housing area through the use of sub-day areas, cell skipping (empty cells between occupied cells), and only one inmate is permitted out at a time for recreation, phone, shower, etc.
· Newly admitted inmates are provided with a surgical mask upon entering the facility to be worn whenever they are outside of their individual cell.
· A full medical exam room has been placed in the Booking Unit to immediately allow a physician to examine all incoming inmates.
· All new intake quarantines are seen by medical staff daily and include a temperature check.
· The Warden and Medical Director review and confer on the management of all medically high- risk inmates.
· The Warden, the Medical Evaluation Unit, the Facility Physician, and other senior staff review and confer on the planning and management of at-risk and exposed staff.
· Housing units that had been closed were reopened to spread out the inmates and reduce the inmate population density across the system.
· Medical staff visits all housing areas 3-4 times per day.
· All inmates that were housed in the facility pre-COVID-19 were issued masks. Inmate volunteers are making masks and 2 cloth masks are issued to each inmate.
· Additional sanitation supplies have been put in housing areas so inmates can clean their living quarters as often as possible.
· All staff/inmates/guests/service personnel have a medical history and temperature screening prior to being allowed to report for duty or enter the facility for any reason.
· Visitation has been cancelled for inmates except for Attorney Visiting.
a. Attorneys requesting a visit are required to submit to a temperature reading before being allowed access to the facility.
b. Attorneys are reminded of availability of booth (non-contact) visits and video visits.
· In recognition of the unintended hardship that limited visitation causes, inmates are being provided two 15-minute telephone calls per week without charge. Free paper and envelopes are made available to all inmates on a weekly basis to encourage family contact in the absence of normal visitation. We have also been playing movies in the housing areas and started a new digital photo service called Print Budii.
· All outside program volunteers have been prohibited from entering the facility. In lieu of direct counseling, volunteers from inmate programs are sending packets of work to the facilities. They are being distributed to the inmates to complete in their respective housing areas.
· Eastern Suffolk BOCES sends in school packets for those participating in educational services, individually tailored for each student. They are delivered to the inmates by our staff and collected and returned to ES BOCES at designated times.
· The Sheriff’s Addiction Treatment Program’s civilians are working from home; however, they have provided work for the inmates to do in their respective housing areas in their absence.
· Religious advisors have been prohibited from entering the facility. Religious congregation is still being allowed in groups of up to 10 inmates at a time and spaced at least six (6) feet apart. Depending on the denomination, services are led by a recommended inmate designee or a videotaped service provided by the respective religious advisor.
· Social distancing is reinforced during all congregate activities.
· The Correctional Facility has also expanded the use of video conferencing for arraignment of new arrestees, other court applications as requested by the Judiciary, religious services, mental health counseling, parole hearings, and inmate counseling programs like discharge planning.
· Round the clock intense cleaning has been taking place throughout both facilities. Additional cleaning shifts have been added to the midnight shift.
· All inmates assigned to cleaning details and kitchen work crews are provided with gloves and masks.
· The transport buses are cleaned and sanitized every morning.
· The District Court facility is cleaned and sanitized three times per week.
· Signage in English and Spanish explaining proper hygiene (i.e. hand washing) has been placed throughout both facilities, including housing areas and other locations visible to inmates.
· Additional hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed throughout both facilities.
· All inmates being discharged from either facility will retain a mask upon discharge.
Regarding corrections staff, the Sheriff implemented the following procedures.
· An order has been issued for officers to clean their workstations before and after their shifts.
· To avoid large gatherings of officers, traditional Lineup has been suspended and officers are given their assignments individually.
· All staff temperatures are taken when reporting for duty.
· Proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is issued to all Correction Officers, i.e.: N-95 masks, surgical loop masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
· All staff were informed of proper distancing and hygiene.
· All staff were informed to stay home if ill.
· All employee exercise areas have been closed.
· The cafeteria remains open for the pickup of meals but not for seated dining. Officers are eating their meal at their assigned post.
· Deputy Sheriffs are also issued appropriate PPE. In addition, all training for Deputy Sheriffs, Correction Officers and Civilian Staff has been suspended.
The START Resource Center on the premises of the Yaphank Jail remains open by appointment to help inmates transition from jail and back into the community.
Earlier this month, Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon, Jr., in conjunction with members of the Nassau County and Westchester County Sheriff’s Departments, formed the COVID 19 Regional Jail Working Group in order to share ideas and best practices in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Leading the effort are Sheriff Toulon, Nassau County Sheriff James Dzurenda, Westchester County Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph K. Spano, and Westchester County Department of Correction First Deputy Commissioner Louis A. Molina.