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Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff, Jerry L. Clayton
On Friday March 12th, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office began offering COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals incarcerated within the Washtenaw County Jail. Jails and prisons across the country require many individuals to live in close quarters, causing them to be susceptible to massive outbreaks and potentially become community spreaders of the virus. Not only does this endanger the lives of those incarcerated but also impacts those who work in the jail, their families, and the larger communities that they return to each day.
Sheriff Clayton offers the following statement to our community:
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office along with our partners in County Administration and Public Health understand and are extremely sensitive to the concern, frustration, and apprehension associated with access to and participation in the Covid-19 vaccination process. For over a year we have worked to follow the science and advice of the experts in an attempt to put forth proactive and thoughtful strategies, designed to safely serve our community and help reduce the possibility of community spread.
These efforts include employing operational protocols intended to reduce the risk of spread of the virus in our facility. The importance of these efforts cannot be understated. Jails are self-contained facilities, that have a physical architecture that make it difficult to sustain effective physical distancing. We also receive individuals that often have physical health challenges. Altogether, jails become a potential hot spot for spreading the virus.
Additionally, over half of the population have “pre-trial” status, which means they are held in jail based on an “alleged” violation of the law. They have not been convicted of any offense, and therefore are innocent until proven guilty. Pre-trial or convicted of an offense, everyone in our facility should experience the same protections. Finally, another reality is the fact that the average length of stay in the facility is less than two weeks, and for many it is less than 48 hours. This means, if not managed effectively, the cycling of people in and out of jail and back into the community can present a real risk of increasing community spread.
For all these reasons and more, I have advocated at both the local and state level for making vaccination of those incarcerated a priority. Not that they should be moved to the head of the line, just that this population should not be ignored, and they deserve a place in line.
Now that multiple vaccines have been approved and more are being made available to the general public every day, we have in partnership with Public Health and our contracted medical care provider, Wellpath, initiated a process by which all individuals entering the jail have the option of receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
If you are interested in learning more about the impact of COVID on the Washtenaw County Jail and the steps taken to ensure the safety of those incarcerated and working in the jail please visit the following links.
WCSO Jail COVID-19 Dashboard:
COVID-19 Jail Intakes vs. Release:
WCSO COVID-19 Updates: https://www.washtenaw.org/3121/WCSO-COVID-19-UPDATES
“An educated and engaged community is our best partner.” – Sheriff Jerry L. Clayton
For media inquiries, please contact Director Derrick L. Jackson at (734) 891-2243 or [email protected]