Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued another supplemental state of emergency proclamation Tuesday meant to address the issue of COVID-19 in Alabama’s prisons and curb its further spread by putting in place new restrictions on transfers of state inmates from county jails to state facilities.
The supplemental proclamation requires “prevailing medical standards” during intake — or a 14-day quarantine period — for inmates arriving from county jails into the state’s correctional facilities.
“Maintaining the safety, security, and well-being of our inmate population, staff, and the public remains the [Alabama Department of Corrections’] highest priority, which is why it was absolutely necessary to modify our intake process to align with prevailing medical standards and to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our facilities,” ADOC spokesperson Samantha Rose said.
The proclamation also ratifies a 30-day moratorium on the intake of new transfers from county jails that Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn announced March 20.
The updated policies require that ADOC “develop and implement intake procedures appropriate to the COVID-19 public health emergency” and require county sheriffs and jails to maintain custody of state inmates until they can safely be transferred to a state facility under the new intake procedures.
“While the modified intake process has created nuanced challenges for both our Department and the county jails, we are confident this important safety measure was an important step for our Department to take,” Rose said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, Alabama Sheriffs Association, and county jails, and we greatly appreciate Governor Ivey leading the way by working with both parties to identify a solution, as outlined in her proclamation. The ADOC looks forward to working with all parties in good faith, as well as resuming inmate intake rates to pre-COVID levels as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Under Ivey’s updated proclamation, counties are ensured a reimbursement for the cost of housing and providing medical care to state inmates, and it provides liability protections for counties, sheriffs and their employees related to caring for state inmates during the COVID-19 emergency.
The department’s latest update, released Monday evening, puts the total of confirmed cases among employees at 99, with 73 cases still active, while 18 of 27 confirmed cases among inmates remained active as of Monday, according to ADOC. Of the department’s 28 facilities, there have been confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff or inmates in 21. Of the state’s approximately 22,000 inmates, 214 had been tested as of Friday.
Areas inside numerous state prisons are under quarantine, with ADOC staff either limiting inmate movements to those areas or checking for symptoms regularly and conducting twice-daily temperature checks, according to the department.