Some newly arrested inmates being housed in tents outside jail to prevent spread of COVID-19

Some newly arrested inmates being housed in tents outside jail to prevent spread of COVID-19
Officials say the tents are designed only for inmates charged with non-violent crimes. There are three or four cots inside and fans blowing to keep the inmates cool. (Source: Live 5 News)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials at the Colleton County jail are taking an unusual step to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some newly arrested inmates are being housed in tents outside the building.

”We have to be able to limit the individual who was just arrested, who had to be booked in, but be able to house them in such a way they couldn’t contaminate the rest of our facility or bring in the COVID virus,” jail administrator Capt. Shane Roberts said Wednesday.

There are three military-style tents being used.

Officials say the tents are designed only for inmates charged with non-violent crimes. There are three or four cots inside and fans blowing to keep the inmates cool.

Roberts says the inmates will stay in the tents until they have their bond hearings. The hearings are held remotely.

He says any inmate who gets a PR bond or can afford to post a surety bond will be released that day and will not have to return to the tents.

”The individuals will stay no more then up to 24 hours in our area where the tents are. It’s not to say they will be in tents for 24 hours but they will be sleeping there,” Roberts said.

Roberts says jail officers are stationed at the tents 24 hours a day to keep an eye on the inmates, and remote cameras are also used to keep tabs on them.

He says since the pandemic began there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the jail.

”We’re hoping that the COVID will kind of subside here soon so we can get back to normal,” Roberts said.

He says the tents will not cost county taxpayers any money. They were obtained through a government program.

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