For Immediate Release
Contact: Nancy Crowley (415) 554-4469 or Terry Rather (415) 554-7247
San Francisco, CA -- San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, in consultation with Dr. Lisa Pratt, Department of Public Health Jail Health Services Director, said he will suspend county jail visits and programs to protect incarcerated persons, staff and visitors against exposure to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. The Sheriff’s decision will go into effect today, March 13, at 5 p.m. PST.
Sheriff Miyamoto and Dr. Pratt said that while there are no known cases of coronavirus in the jails, the Sheriff’s Office and Jail Health Services are mirroring community public health measures to ensure the safety of everyone who lives in, works at, and visits the county jail.
This decision follows a flurry of public announcements yesterday regarding closures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This includes the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which will stop normal visiting at all prisons and the San Francisco Unified School District, which is closing schools for three weeks.
“As San Francisco and California move toward more restrictive measures to reduce the risk of everyone’s exposure, we must follow suit to protect everyone’s health and safety under our care,” said Sheriff Miyamoto.
Incarcerated people will continue to have non-contact access to their legal counsel inside the jails. Sheriff Miyamoto also said that the Sheriff’s Office is moving to incorporate video visits and videoconferencing for incarcerated programming.
“The COVID-19 public health emergency is constantly evolving,” said Dr. Pratt. “We will reassess our operations each day and monitor recommendations from local and state health officials as cases decline in the community.”
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office released a COVID-19 Response and Action Plan to the public, which addresses every level of exposure.
“We are sensitive to the difficulties that suspended visits may cause families of the incarcerated,” said Sheriff Miyamoto. “We value visitation as an essential part of rehabilitation and encourage families to stay in touch with their loved ones and friends through phone calls and letters. We are reviewing our jail operations and will make adjustments to accommodate future visiting.”
Led by elected Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office serves the people of San Francisco by administering the county jails, providing security for the Superior Court and other high-profile public buildings, and performing civil court orders. The Sheriff’s Office employs more than 850 sworn staff and almost 200 non-sworn employees.
Jail Health Services is a section of the San Francisco Health Network of the Department of Public Health that is dedicated to the health care of incarcerated adults in San Francisco. Jail Health Services employs 162 nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, behavioral health clinicians, dentists and support staff.