ABILENE, Texas (KRBC)-Per Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders, the Taylor County Jail has suspended visitation as a safety precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheriff Ricky Bishop justified these orders, telling KRBC that these procedures are meant to keep inmates and their loved ones safe during this public health crisis. Officials have also suspended any jail work crew activities outside of the facility, but recreation time is still alllowed.
As of Wednesday, only cleared chaplains and attorneys were allowed visitation of inmates, but each of them is required to pass a screening and temperature check.
One minister, Joe Almanza, regularly visits the jail for one-on-one ministry with inmates. Almanza was once a member of the Mexican Mafia and later spent time behind bars. His record was later expunged, through a pardon by President George W. Bush. He said sympathizes with those inmates who are unable to have that face to face contact with family members or friends.
“We tend to forget that they’re still human, even though they’re incarcerated,” said Almanza. “There is a lot of people reaching out to God [who] have questions about certain situations, and they’re concerned about their families. Even though they’re incarcerated, they’re worried about how their children are coping with it.”