Safety precaution: Muscogee County Jail temporarily suspends visitation

The move comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise throughout the county.
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 7:41 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - No visitors are allowed at the Muscogee County Jail, at least for now. The move comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise throughout the county. Officials made the decision with hopes to stop the spread of the coronavirus among staff and inmates.

John Wade with the sheriff’s office says this move was absolutely necessary for safety.

“At the end of the day, we want to try and avoid a disaster. If that jail winds up collapsing because of COVID, we got some serious issues.”, said Wade. “Number one, with the increased number of exposure cases with the variant and COVID-19 in the area, the jail is no exception to what happens when you have different cases that pop up.”

“Personally, as someone who is vaccinated, I would have no problem going into the jail to minister”, said Norman Quarles, an activist and chaplain who frequently goes into the jail to minister to inmates. “If a decision is made to temporarily shut down movement and inmate ministry, that’s what we have to abide by.”

But not everyone who visits the jail wants to mentor or spread the gospel to inmates.

Emily Barfield told News Leader 9 that her brother, Damon, has been in jail since April on a breaking and entering charge.

“They don’t leave the floor for visitation, so it’s not any contact with the public at all, it’s through a video visit, so I don’t understand, how they’re protecting anyone from COVID.”, said Barfield. “I feel like it’s bad enough he’s in there and the only thing they have is their visitation, their email, and stuff like that. And now they’re being straight cut off from the outside world completely, and they’re all alone, that’s affecting mental health statuses and my brother does have mental problems.”

Officials told News Leader 9 that inmates will still be able to have contact with the outside world in the form of phone calls and text devices. No word yet on how long visitation will be temporarily suspended.

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