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Hillsborough County’s jails are suspending in-house family and friend visits and closing their lobbies starting Tuesday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the changes Monday “out of an abundance of caution," according to a statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jails. The Hillsborough court system is also limiting hours for first appearance court, which will start at 1 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. Defendants will still appear in person in Courtroom 17. Misdemeanor probation checks can now be made over the phone.
“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the sheriff said Monday, using the virus’ formal name. “We’re just asking the community that we serve, be patient as we learn more and make these changes. Please be patient and flexible. We’re doing it for the safety of everyone involved.”
Attorneys can still visit with their clients via the jail’s video visitation system, the Sheriff’s Office said, “which is being thoroughly sanitized daily.” Friends and family can still virtually visit with inmates from their home computers using the jail’s remote video visitation program. It costs $8 for 20 minutes, the Sheriff’s Office said, and users can set up an account at hcsovisit.com/app.
The Sheriff’s Office will also give inmates two free five-minute phone calls starting later this week.
Officials will also close the lobbies at both jails: the Falkenburg Road Jail at 520 N Falkenburg Road and the Orient Road Jail at 1201 Orient Road. Those paying bail for an inmate, including bail bond workers, will be directed to a service window on the side of each facility.
Those who are picking up an inmate should wait in their cars, the Sheriff’s Office said. If you have questions about the jail’s new release process call (813) 247-8300.
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