Monday, April 6, 2020

Criminal Justice Services Department Pandemic Response


The Criminal Justice Services Department (CJSD), which includes Residential Community Corrections, Pretrial Services and Summit View Treatment Programs, update their Pandemic Response Plan each fall. The plan consists of inventorying supplies, screening all client intakes for symptoms, educating program clients and staff, updating a staff contingency plan, and assessing emergency response for any serious increase during flu season or our current situation with the COVID-19 virus.

CJSD is working closely with Mesa County Public Health and the Colorado Department of Public Safety to implement our pandemic plans in accordance with the best information and practices that are currently available. Though most criminal justice employees are considered essential, many are working from home whenever possible. Fortunately, both client and employee seasonal illnesses have been minimal. At this time, neither clients or employees have reported symptoms related to COVID-19.

In order to protect clients and staff, we have made the following operational changes to include:

Limiting unnecessary physical contact and utilizing social distancing by allowing clients that live in the community to complete required check-ins or appointments with staff by phone or email. Critical mental health or substance abuse counselors continue to be available by phone, email or in-person if needed.

Staff and clients have been educated on social distancing. Changes have been made to staff meetings, client treatment and education class sizes, and physical layouts to adhere to recommended guidelines.

Public access to program facilities has been limited in compliance with new rules regarding the COVID-19 response. Individuals that are ill or showing symptoms related to the virus or the flu are asked to refrain from entering the campus. Keeping our residential clients and staff as safe as possible from the virus is of utmost importance in a residential facility where people are living and working.

Program clients that are employed as essential staff continue to work. Clients who are unemployed as a result of COVID-19 have been provided financial waivers and assistance with applying for unemployment benefits. 

In an effort to prevent COVID-19, CJSD has increased cleaning crews and continues to provide “wipe-down” strategies multiple times a day throughout the campus, including public entrance areas, client living quarters, staff areas and food service areas.

In response to Mesa County Public Health’s recommendations for Detention Facilities, we have begun screening staff for symptoms daily, prior to client contact, as well as any outside contractors that arrive for essential services.

A review of client emergency release plans, completed in accordance with our Pandemic Response Plan, has begun. CJSD is now reviewing clients who may be placed in community settings on an emergency basis. This is in compliance with the order by Governor Polis to reduce inmate populations to allow for greater social distancing practices within the facility and to create space for isolation and quarantine areas that are needed.   

We continue to work with the Colorado Department of Public Safety and the Mesa County Community Corrections Board to review standards related to client contact and supervision.  Adjustments are being made that increase client and staff safety by reducing practices that do not align with social distancing and personal protective recommendations.

CJSD continues to monitor new recommendations daily as information continues to evolve. Updates to our practices will continue to be made with the health and safety of our staff, clients and community in mind. We are committed to continuing our focus on public safety during this unprecedented time.

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