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Marshall County inmates healthy, will not be released early

T-R FILE PHOTO Good hygiene practices were already enforced at the Marshall County Jail prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sheriff Steve Hoffman said there is no plan for early inmate release as a result of the pandemic.

Inmates at the Marshall County Jail are being protected from COVID-19.

Sheriff Steve Hoffman said employee travel restrictions are in place and every day temperatures are taken of the staff members.

Shortly after COVID-19 arrived in Iowa, Hoffman said his department responded to concerns from the Iowa Department of Public Health regarding health of inmates in jails and prisons.

Some of the inmates are in close proximity to one another. However, observing inmate health is nothing new for the Marshall County Jail staff. Hoffman said they are treating the pandemic as they would for the influenza season.

Topping the daily temperature checks are frequent good practice of hygiene and an excellent ventilation system.

“We keep illness out of this facility regardless of a pandemic,” the sheriff said.

Hoffman said they already have experience with the practices as they dealt with the H1N1 health scare in 2009. He said they had, and still have, the ability to segregate and isolate inmates who are sick. Plus, a nurse is available to respond to inmate health concerns.

Since there was already a good practice of keeping a healthy facility, Hoffman is not inclined to release inmates early. That, he said, is something that depends on attorneys and judges.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa has requested that as many inmates as possible be released from county jails and additional people should be prevented from going in.

The inmate population at the Marshall County Jail has already declined to around 130, which Hoffman said dropped by roughly 20 people in the last two weeks.

“I think there is a correlation with the COVID-19,” he said. “It is largely suspect. We have far fewer intakes.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.