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Pima County Jail to stop in-person visitation amid coronavirus concerns

Inmates testing tablets at the Pima County Jail
Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 21:33:30-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Inmates at the Pima County Jail will no longer be allowed in-person visits temporarily, the Sheriff's Department announced Wednesday evening.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department says it will be closing the front desk to its adult detention center as well as the minimum security facility over concerns of coronavirus spread.

Inmates will still be allowed to use an "internet-based visitation system," and allowed two five-minute phone calls per week, the news release said. PCSD also said it's working to implement a messaging system to allow inmates to communicate with loved ones.

"These temporary changes are intended to support current CDC guidance related to COVID-19 to provide for appropriate social distancing and limiting unnecessary close contact with other people," PCSD said in the news release.

PCSD did not say when the restrictions would be lifted and normal visitation would resume.

RELATED: Some sheriffs ask to reduce jail population amid virus worry

Concerned about the spread of coronavirus, other sheriffs in Arizona are calling for the release of certain offenders from jail and urging police agencies to issue citations rather than arrest people.

They worry that the confined nature of a prison setting could cause the disease to spread rapidly and uncontrollably, endangering not only prisoners, but staff as well.