Advocates for the humane treatment of immigrants are cheering today because of Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder’s announcement will no longer participate (as he has enthusiastically since 2007) in the federal program to lock up immigration status offenders at every opportunity.

Thank coronavirus for something.

Advertisement

The program allows law officers to help out ICE and investigate the immigration status of minor offenders, even traffic violators. It’s an outrage. Washington County is not alone.

The sheriff’s news release:

Advertisement

The 287(g) program the Washington County Sheriff’s Office has participated in since 2007 is due for a contract renewal by April 30, 2020. I continue to believe it is a good program for the citizens of Washington County, but because of these unprecedented times, and the amount of time and energy we currently have dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have decided to suspend, indefinitely, our participation in the program. Once everything settles down, and our community returns to some sort of normalcy, my staff and I will re-evaluate. I appreciate your continued support of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Some of the Changes since COVID-19:

• Community Service Program – Suspended

• Out of Custody Arraignments – Suspended

• Out of State Extraditions – Suspended

• Out of Custody Felony Citations – Authorized

• On-Site Visitations – Suspended

• Utilizing ankle monitors for approximately 75 Detainees

• Restricted Attorney / Detainee in-person contact by utilizing video technology

• Utilizing video technology for in-custody court hearings

• Established isolation housing for new detainee intakes

• Restricted ingress/egress from the facility

• All personnel, including employees, vendors, visitors, etc. follow CDC/ADH screening guidelines when accessing facility

• All employees wear cotton masks while working in the detention facility and when around detainees, as well as when social distancing around other employees is not possible.