MONROE, Ga. — Sheriff Joe Chapman has suspended visitation at the Walton County Jail.
The sheriff said visitation is canceled until further notice due to the spread of COVID-19.
Visitation will resume once the virus has peaked and begun to decline.
Chapman said Wednesday there are no cases of COVID-19 in the jail. He’d like to keep it that way.
“We’ve instructed the deputies to only bring to jail the people that absolutely have to come to jail,” he said. “We’ve stopped visitation. As a last resort, and only if personnel shortage becomes an issue, we’ll go to a 23 (hour)-1 (hour) lockdown in the jail — but we haven’t gotten to that point yet.”
Chapman said the local judges aren’t releasing large numbers of inmates for the sake of keeping the jail’s census down. But he said a video link to court is helping clear cases of people arrested on “technical violations,” such as failing to report for probation check-ins or paying fines.
“We’re expediting those and it’s working,” he said.
Chapman said the Department of Corrections is not taking inmates from the county jails due to the outbreak. Still, they’ve managed to keep the number of inmates lower than normal.
“The deputies in part are more under my control,” he said. “They know the worst-case scenario is to bring somebody to jail. I’ve asked the cities to do the same.”
Chapman said he’s also instituted measures to keep deputies safe while still protecting the public.
“We’ve told them to take every precaution that they can: sanitizing their cars, trying to keep contact to a minimum, but we don’t have that luxury — they get a 911 call, they’ve got to go,” he said.
“I’ve recalled a permit that Tyrone Brooks and them had for the Moore’s Ford reenactment. I recalled that permit today. I called the chairman (Kevin Little, of the Board of Commissioners) and the county attorneys to tell them what I had done.”