Jail Standards and Inspections Temporary Policy
September 21, 2020
Due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) standard inspections of Idaho Jails and scheduled PREA audits of jails will continue to be altered. The virus is affecting Idaho as it is the rest of the nation and this is particularly debilitating in correctional environments where close confinement is a necessity not only for inmates, but for employees. At this point, based on available information, late fall and winter months will see the virus worsen which will require continued vigilance on the part of jail administrators and staff.
In an effort to reduce risk to all concerned including the Idaho Sheriffs Association jail inspector, the board of directors decided to change the process of jail inspections from physical inspections to data confirmed inspections. Essentially, data confirming compliance to jail standards is collected electronically and used as a basis to determine compliance to standards. This method is not as thorough as an actual physical inspection, but it substantially reduces the risk to the jail inspector as well as jail staff and inmates as they don’t have to conduct face to face meetings that a physical inspection requires.
Data driven jail inspections rely on a relationship of trust between the inspector and jail staff as confirmation to compliance with some standards is difficult to ascertain without physical inspection. During the period of data inspections, compliance rules will be judged with more flexibility. Data jail inspections will continue until the board of directors believes that it is reasonably safe to resume normal inspections.
PREA audits require national compliance to audit standards; however the PREA Management Office provided information earlier this year that said they would provide flexibility on audit timelines due to the Coronavirus. They recognize the increased risks that accompany PREA audits and will work with auditors and jails to amend timelines to minimize risks. At this point scheduled PREA audits will be postponed until a later time when the board of directors believes it is safe to continue.
Questions regarding this policy should be directed at Jail Standards Committee Chair Sheriff Paul Wilde or Jail Inspector Cindy Malm.