Texas governor suspends in-person county, city jail visits for inmates
The executive order will not apply to attorneys who are visiting clients, or to religious leaders and clergy members
By Hojun Choi
AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered county and municipal jails to suspend in-person visitations for inmates in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The executive order, which was announced Friday, will not apply to attorneys who are visiting clients, or to religious leaders and clergy members.
When Abbott declared a state of disaster for Texas counties in March, he had suspended visitations to the state's jails, prisons and juvenile justice facilities.
In a written statement, Abbott said Friday's announcement is a continuation of the state's efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in highly susceptible areas.
"I encourage jails to utilize virtual visitation strategies to allow for visitations in a way that protects both staff and the inmate population," Abbott said. "The State of Texas is committed to keeping all Texans safe, protecting our most vulnerable populations, and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 throughout the Lone Star State."
Abbott's executive order stated that the move comes in light of reports of some county and municipal jails around the state making plans to resume in-person visitations.
Doing so would put inmates and jail staff at risk, the executive order said.
Travis County's Jail system has reported a smaller number of coronavirus cases for inmates and staff compared to others around the state.
As of Monday, when the most recent data was released, at least five correctional officers and one administrative staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus. Among inmates, 82 have been tested, with 73 negative results and 9 pending, according to the Travis County sheriff's office.
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