AUSTIN, Texas - Gov. Greg Abbott has suspended inmate visitations in Texas jails in response to the coronavirus.
According to a memo from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, the governor's office has granted TCJS's request to suspend visitations due to the outbreak.
The memo says the suspension will be in place until the governor's office terminates the order or until the disaster declaration issued on March 13 is lifted or expires. Jails will not be issued a notice of non-compliance for suspension of visitation.
The memo does say that all efforts should be made to allow attorneys to visit their clients as to not impact the courts. Attorneys should be screened prior to entry into facilities.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department also issued a press release on March 13, saying it was postponing in-person visitations at its facilities in response to the outbreak and to protect youth and staff.
Staff members are working to expand access to virtual visitation and phone calls by increasing the number of tablets available for Skype and designating additional staff to facilitate extra phone calls. Staff will also be adding minutes to each youth's account.
Before this, the agency postponed most volunteer access to TJJD facilities and volunteer coordinators are working with mentors to connect with youth through options such as Skype and FaceTime.