Inmates in the Beaver County Jail are going to stay put for as long as they’re supposed to be there. Warden William Schouppe said it won’t be necessary to implement a mass release of inmates in Beaver County like is being seen in others nearby.
“No, no, no,” Schouppe responded when asked by BeaverCountian.com if there were any plans in the works to release inmates.
“We are not foreseeing any mass releases from the Beaver County Jail, I can tell you that. Right now we have been concentrating on making sure our inmates are having as little contact with people in the outside world as possible. And I think we’ve been doing a really good job of it.”
The county jail has stopped transporting inmates back and forth to the courthouse for hearings, that’s all being done by video conference now; they also shut down a regional booking center that saw people coming and going from the facility each day to be fingerprinted. The jail is no longer housing detainees for ICE and US Marshalls under provisions of a contract with the federal government.
“Our inmate count has been down a little bit because of things we’ve already been doing as part of our planning with pretrial services,” Schouppe said. “Last week we were at 248, today we are at 234. The district judges and courts have been working not to throw people in with nonviolent offense unless they need to, the courts have been mindful when setting bonds.”
Mercer County Jail announced this morning it was releasing 40 to 50 non-violent inmates to make room for medical isolation cells. Allegheny County Jail is in the process of releasing some 200 non-violent inmates. Butler is said to be working on similar measures.
Commissioner Chairman Dan Camp told BeaverCountian.com the board has been having regular discussions with the courts here, and is confident if the need arose options would be made available to release certain inmates.
“We are certain the court will entertain requests from the warden or sheriff on a case-by-case basis, applicable only to non-violent offenders who if released would be placed on house arrest with an electronic monitor.”
That being said, Camp agreed with Schouppe’s assessment that no such releases are expected from Beaver County’s jail.
“We are confident in the proactive steps and actions the warden has taken to limit the possibility of the virus affecting the county jail,” Camp said.
Beaver County officials say Schouppe has been ahead of the curve in implementing procedures to mitigate against any potential outbreak at the jail. He began initiating infectious disease protocols back in early February, with additional screening being done of all inmates as they arrived at the facility.
Beaver County has two known active cases of COVID-19 as of this morning, but none of those are in the jail.
Schouppe said there are already some inmates who have tried to exploit the coronavirus pandemic, but quickly learned their tactics weren’t going to work with him.
“We have had a few new inmates claim they are COVID-19 and can’t be held in our jail,” Schouppe said.
“Guess what? They’re here. If somebody has to come to jail they are going to be in jail. I can promise you that.”