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Jail holding steady, precautions remain

Jail officials were among the first to implement visitor restrictions as the coronavirus pandemic started to grow in Kentucky.

A couple weeks later, Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle said the situation is as stable as it can be, with fewer people coming into the jail and no prisoners from other counties.

“Naturally, we’re taking all the precautions we can,” Doyle said. “We’re fortunate we were ahead of the game.”

Early in the situation, jails stopped accepting prisoner transfers from other counties, and local police have been making fewer arrests, he said. Gov. Andy Beshear, he said, made it clear those being arrested should be for serious offenses such as burglary, robbery or rape.

With fewer new people coming in and the state not moving its prisoners around, it stabilizes the population and reduces the risk of spreading the virus, he said.

The jail staff and trustees are taking the now-familiar precautions of washing hands and disinfecting everything possible.

“We have continuous cleaning every day,” Doyle said. “Every hour, they’re cleaning the booking area, doorknobs, telephones.”

The jail’s medical staff has also been screening the prisoners as well as the staff. Doyle said employees are checked every day. The jail lobby is closed, and employees enter and leave through one location, he said.

Part of the reason to be extra vigilant, Doyle said, is the nearly 30-year-old jail doesn’t have a space to quarantine or isolate anyone with the virus, should they come in. Provisions have been made, he said, should a person become sick.

Changes to the court system have allowed the jail staff to keep the prisoners inside as well.

“The circuit judges used the district courtroom and the video system,” Doyle said. “It’s wonderful. It keeps us from taking the prisoners out.”

Local judges have continued matters for anyone on bond for several weeks, and limited access to necessary hearings.

Doyle said the prisoners seem to be doing well despite no in-person visitation.

“They’ve been pretty understanding,” Doyle said. “We told them what is occurring and why it’s occurring. They still have phones in the cell areas so they can communicate (with loved ones).”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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