Tulare County jails to go on lockdown for 7 days due to COVID-19

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- New restrictions are now in place at Tulare County's detention facilities, including a limit on all non-essential inmate and staff movement.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux released a statement that says, "Because some inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, we have made the decision to put our Detention Facilities on a seven-day lockdown. The decision was made out of an abundance of caution as we continue to maintain the rigorous tracing and sanitation standards that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic."

In the past, there have been COVID outbreaks in the county's jails -- including October of last year, when 78 inmates tested positive.

But this is the first lockdown of the facilities due to the coronavirus. Officials have not said how many positive cases they currently have or how the spread may have started.

We do know the sheriff's office reinstated video court to continue with proceedings.

However, cases with exigent circumstances will continue in person.

"Exigent circumstances could mean a trial or a hearing going on with witnesses," says Legal Analyst Anthony Capozzi. "If that is exigent circumstances and they are bringing those inmates into the courthouse, then that is pretty much the same policies they have now."

Capozzi says strict guidelines have been in place before the lockdown.

"Visitors have been prevented from going in to see inmates, lawyers who go in have to take a COVID test, so I am not so sure there is much of a difference," he said.

In the last year, the Sheriff's Office faced claims from The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California over COVID protocols but stood by its efforts to protect inmates and staff.

RELATED: Tulare County sheriff addresses COVID outbreak at jail

"This may be an instance where they are showing that they are trying to do something," Capozzi said.

The sheriff's office is not revealing exactly when the seven-day lockdown is set to end.
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