HCSO Awarded $440,000 Tennessee Department of Health ELC Confinement Grant
Hamilton County, TN – Sheriff Jim Hammond and Chief Deputy Austin Garrett are pleased to announce the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded a Tennessee Department of Health Epidemiology & Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Confinement Facilities Award for the amount of $440,066.
This ELC award is part of the Tennessee Department of Health’s mission to reduce and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in confinement facilities such as prisons and jails in Tennessee. This funding is offered in partnership with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ).
According to a March 2021 Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report conducted from March 2020 to June 2020, jails conducted 215,360 inmate COVID-19 tests. Of those tests, more than 11% were positive. The report further noted that Jails in counties with confirmed residential COVID-19 infection rates of 1% or more tested nearly 21% of persons admitted to their jails from March 2020 to June 2020.
In addition to the above study, The Marshall Project: COVID Cases in Prisons found that by mid-December of 2020, one in five state and federal prisoners in the United States tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times higher than the general population. Additionally, COVID-19 infections in confinement facility staff have also significantly hampered daily operations and services to inmates.
The HCSO will utilize the funds awarded from this grant to enhance our ability to sanitize the Silverdale Detention center by purchasing additional cleaning equipment to be used in our housing units, common spaces, and transportation vehicles which will allow us to continue to meet or exceed State of Tennessee and Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) standards. The grant will also support the implementation of a hospital grade air purification system for all of the housing units and common spaces and the construction of a new attorney-client visitation space that supports video visitation and court appearances with individual stations with partitions. Lastly, some of the funds will be utilized for COVID-19 inmate education and mitigation measures for HCSO Re-Entry and Chaplaincy programming like desk barriers, thermometers, and portable handwashing stations.
“While COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in many confinement facilities, the HCSO acknowledges that inmates are at increased risk of transmitting and spreading the COVID-19 virus due to their incarcerated status,” stated Sheriff Jim Hammond. “This grant will help our agency purchase additional cleaning materials and equipment necessary to ensure we continue to provide the safest, healthiest environment possible for our inmates and staff at the Silverdale Detention Center,” he further noted.
Year to date, the HCSO Corrections Division via QCHC, our contract medical provider at Silverdale, have administered (516) COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 and performed (297) COVID-19 tests on inmates. As of Monday, December 6th, there were no inmates reported with COVID-19 at Silverdale. To date, we have had (47) inmates test positive for COVID-19.