Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Health

Hillsborough jail, first-appearance court change procedures amid coronavirus

Inmate visitation will be limited. The court system is also limiting hours for first appearance court.
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister comments during a status report meeting by the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group at the Hillsborough County Public Safety Operations Complex on Thursday.
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister comments during a status report meeting by the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group at the Hillsborough County Public Safety Operations Complex on Thursday. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Mar. 16, 2020

Stories about the coronavirus pandemic are free to read as a public service at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to receive updates weekday mornings. If this coverage is important to you, consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Tampa Bay Times at tampabay.com/subscribe.

• • •

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.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

FLORIDA MAP: See an updated map of known coronavirus cases across the State.

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP: See updates and tips posts, and ask questions of our journalists.

FOLLOW OUR COVERAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Reddit.

LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporter.

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips.

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.