COVID concerns prompt county jail inmate releases; jail visitation to be cancelled

The population of the Stephens County Jail has dropped by more than 1/3 under Sheriff's program to release those serving time for violating their probation on misdemeanor charges; all jail visitation cancelled effective this weekend.

Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley has informed media that specific classifications of prisoners at the Stephens County Jail have been released over the past four weeks due to concerns over possible COVID-19 infection at the closed-population facility. Approximately 35 percent of detainees at the jail have currently been released under this policy.

“We have been reducing our average daily population, allowing city and county misdemeanor probation violators out (of jail) early,” Shirley said. “Our staff is also working with Mountain Judicial Circuit Judges Rusty Smith and Chan Caudel, as well as State Court Judge James Irvin, to lower the bond amounts for non-violent inmates charged with both felony and misdemeanor offenses.”

This morning, March 31, Shirley advised ConnectLocal that they will also be cancelling all visitation at the jail, including inmate families.

“We have an agreement worked out with our inmate phone vendor where they will allow each inmate a free 15 minute phone call on the weekends,” he said.

This policy will go into effect this weekend, he advised.


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