Emergency COVID-19 actions to ensure everyone’s safety at correctional facilities
Spanish version: Emergency_COVID-19_actions__05022020_SPANISH
We are taking emergency actions to ensure the safety of everyone at our correctional facilities, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Public Health – Seattle & King County.
We are working with each of our partners in the criminal justice system – courts, public defenders, prosecutors, corrections, and law enforcement – to quickly and safely decrease the number of people who are in custody to provide our staff more opportunities to ensure everyone’s health and safety. The number of youth at the Children and Family Justice Center is already low enough that each youth has their own individual dorm room where our staff provides individualized care.
We will post updates and the latest data on this website each weekday and answer frequently asked questions.
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Correctional facilities dashboard
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- One of the 188 staff members who participated in the voluntary testing we offered on April 25-26 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center tested positive for COVID-19. We will provide any staff member who tests positive with all available resources. Public Health deployed a team to the correctional facility in Kent after six staff members reported testing positive since the pandemic began. Given the limited number of tests available, Public Health offered to test correctional and healthcare employees to reduce the likelihood that they would spread the virus to people in custody and among each other. Jail Health Services continues to test people in custody who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.
For Family and Friends
We are taking the following actions to promote social distancing as recommended by Public Health to ensure the health of everyone in our custody.
- To reduce the likelihood of someone introducing the virus into facilities and to prevent family and friends from potential infections, we have cancelled public visits at our two jails. For youth in detention, we provide in-person visits by appointment with parents/legal guardians in our no-contact room.
- We offer video visits at no cost. Contact Securus Video Visitation at 1-877-578-3658 or go to www.videovisitanywhere.com to sign up for “Anywhere Video Visitation.” Youth also can make free phone calls to parents and guardians.
- We set up a designated housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent where we provide appropriate care in medical isolation to anyone who is not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 but is considered a high risk for severe complications based on CDC complications.
- We have increased cleaning at all facilities.
- We are now screening all staff members and professional visitors when they arrive at our facilities.
For News Media
This website, which we update each weekday, is the best source for the latest information on COVID-19 actions at the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. Click here for department news releases.
- King County operates two adult facilities – the King County Correctional Facility in downtown Seattle and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent – and one youth facility, the Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle.
- The courts, not jails, determine how long someone is in custody. We are working with courts – as well as public defenders, prosecutors, corrections, and law enforcement – to quickly and safely decrease the number of people who are in custody to provide our staff with the best opportunity to keep everyone healthy and safe.
- If you have questions regarding correctional operations -- including changes in the population, booking restrictions, programs, and visitation -- please contact the DAJD Public Information Officer at DAJDMediaInquiries@kingcounty.gov.
- If you have questions regarding Jail Health Services -- including testing, personal protective equipment, medical isolation, and contact tracing -- please contact the Public Health Information Office at PHPIO@kingcounty.gov.
- For an overview of actions King County is taking to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, visit kingcounty.gov/covid.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: No. The courts, not jails, determine how long someone is in custody. However, we are working with courts -- along with public defenders, prosecutors, corrections, and law enforcement -- to quickly and safely decrease the number of people who are brought to correctional facilities, prioritizing bed space for those who pose an imminent risk to public safety. That has significantly reduced the average daily population, providing our staff with more opportunities to practice social distancing as recommended by Public Health -- Seattle & King County.
A: The population is lower because fewer people are being booked into jails. The courts are still releasing people from custody just as they always have, so the average daily population has significantly decreased as courts, public defenders, prosecutors, and law enforcement prioritize bed space for those who pose an imminent risk to public safety.
A: Twenty-one staff members have reported testing positive since the beginning of the pandemic. We have been connecting each of them with all available resources.
A: We will transfer them to a designated housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center where we will provide appropriate care in medical isolation using personal protective equipment. Jail Health Services will transfer them to a hospital for further care if their needs exceed Jail Health Service’s ability to provide appropriate care.
Based on CDC guidelines, they will only be released from the designated COVID-19 housing unit after a healthcare provider determines that they are no longer exhibiting symptoms or 14 days after the onset of the illness, whichever is longer.
A: The population at the Children and Family Justice Center is already low enough that each youth has their own individual dorm room where our healthcare providers and other staff members are able to provide individualized care.
We are working with the Superior Court, Juvenile Probation, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Public Defense to identify any youth who might qualify for release in order to further reduce the number of youth at the Children and Family Justice Center as part of our emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A: A droplet precaution is a standard practice recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of infectious diseases through what are known as droplets, fluids that are spread through coughing and sneezing. It’s the same precaution we take to prevent the spread of influenza. If someone exhibits symptoms of an infectious disease known to be spread by droplets, we place them in an isolated individual room where our staff provides them with appropriate care while wearing personal protective equipment to avoid any potential spread of infection.
We place a mask on the person in custody during transfers and anytime they are receiving care. If the person tests positive for COVID-19 or any other infectious disease, we would continue to isolate them from the general population and staff until they are no longer exhibiting symptoms and have been cleared by a medical provider to return to the general population.
A: We transfer people who are at a higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19 – 60 and older with underlying health conditions – but who are not symptomatic to a designated housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent where we provide appropriate care in medical isolation using personal protective equipment.
A: We are working with our partners in the criminal justice system to further reduce the adult population, providing our staff with the best opportunities to promote social distancing. That also makes it possible for our staff to continue providing appropriate care in medical isolation for people who are considered most vulnerable to severe complications.
We have cancelled public visitation and now offer video visits at no cost, reducing the likelihood of a visitor introducing the virus at our facilities. We also cancelled group activities at adult correctional facilities. We are exploring options to continue access to programs, such as education and religious services, that still promote social distancing. In the meantime, staff will offer increased access to other existing recreational programs and activities, including cards, games, books, movies and recreation yard as appropriate.
A: Every person in custody who arrives at one of our correctional facilities receives a health screening. Our Jail Health staff members are now conducting enhanced evaluations if anyone is exhibiting symptoms at intake before their placement. We now take the temperature of everyone who arrives at correctional facility, including staff members and professional visitors such as attorneys.