After the Webinar: Ahead of the Curve – How Facilities Managed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Q&A with Jim Martin

Webinar presenter Jim Martin answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Ahead of the Curve: How Facilities Managed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: Can you talk a little bit more about how we should embrace that shift and start thinking more about readiness and preparedness?  

Jim Martin: Yeah, that’s a great question and, again, I would just re-iterate that our law enforcement professional profession is one of the best at being able to adapt to change and react to whatever is thrown at us. I think having contingency plans, learning from this experience. It’s no different than, the spread of the flu, it’s no different on the split spread of lice, of bed bugs. We’ve always been able to react in the way that’s appropriate, but we never know who would have thought that this would have been. What possibly can be next after something like this? But just always keep an open mind to new things and keep yourself educated. I think it’s funny that the next webinar that I’ll be doing for you is talking about relationships between correctional health care and law enforcement. And I’ve done that 2 or 3 years ago. And it’s not like it was a new concept. But, boy, have we not seen where these working relationships with these two entities have been the saving grace for managing a pandemic. And so, I think, communicating with each other, it’s getting us outside of our silos, and realizing that just because it’s our toy that we’re playing with, doesn’t mean we can’t share it. We’re learning from each other, and I think with communication lines and education and just thinking about the tabletop exercises. And if we have to shut down half of our facility, what would that look like if we had to evacuate our building? What would that look like? And, you know, technology, how, what have we learned through technology? We’ve seen a lot of virtual things. Now, albeit people might be tired of it. But what can we do virtually, moving forward? I know that our organization has seen how it has been beneficial to us to be able to start doing some things on a hybrid nature. So, I think it’s just keeping an open mind. Keep talking to each other and practice together. The more you plan, the more you practice for an event when that happens. I think there’ll be an easier transition to mitigate that.


Audience Question: What course of action do you recommend for inmates or detainees, who refuse to wear masks or wear them incorrectly? Do you have any advice?  

Jim Martin: Talk to my kids, exact information. It’s like any other environment. If that is what the rule of law is at the time. If wearing a mask outside of your housing unit is the rule, follow the rule. And if they are not going to wear the mask, or if they’re not going to wear it properly, because it’s a public safety hazard, then they don’t get to come out. I mean, if we require that the incarcerated population get dressed before they go outside for outdoor recreation, we’re not going to let them come out naked. You put your clothes on or you don’t go to recreation. And this is a health matter. It’s one thing in an enclosed. Housing units have cells and some of the cells were 12 person cells, right? So, while they’re in that cell together, it’s just like my family living in my house. Inside the house, I’m around my wife and my kids, all the time. We don’t wear a mask when we’re inside the house because we’re together all the time. Same thing with the housing unit, the individual cells, but once they come out mixed with others, they need to wear it. So, it’s administrative things that you can do, the restrictions if you don’t wear the mask properly, or wear the mask but all, you just can’t come out to these common areas. That’s a decision that the incarcerated has to make. And, but make sure that your policies and procedures reflect that, or a post-order that you get the documentation because this is a health condition, and this is why it’s important. Then you make sure that your staff is enforcing it, because once you have one correction officer saying, “You put your mask on or you don’t come out,” but the next one says, “Meh, come on out,” then you’re not sending a consistent message. So, it has to be consistent throughout.


Audience Question: Are you aware of any federal grant programs that can help us offset higher medical care costs or materials, or anything like that because of COVID?  

Jim Martin: I don’t know of specific things that I could say go to this website and go here. I know that there was money out of the CARES act. I know that there are all sorts of philanthropic agencies that are out there and foundations that you could apply for. Honestly, google what you’re looking for and see. There’s a clearinghouse for philanthropic agencies that give money. It’s like the Google of foundations, right? I think it’s the foundation resource, something like that. But you can do searches like that of organizations that grant money or grant resources or allow you to do studies. They’re all there. There are tons of them out there, Google is your friend on this one, I think.


Audience Question: Jim, any suggestions that you can offer for facilities planning for the COVID booster shots, either for inmates or staff or both?  

Jim Martin: You know what? That’s a great question. Because, you know, although we’ve talked about how vaccinations are handled in facilities. I’ve not heard people talking about the booster other than they will follow the same guidance as they initiated the vaccine. A lot of people. A lot of facilities use the one-shot, Johnson and Johnson vaccine because it was simple, and you can document it, and it’s not a thing yet to come back in a couple of weeks. I don’t know where the level of the booster for that particular vaccine is. You know, I don’t have a good answer. But you’ll follow the same guidelines. Listen to your health departments that are rolling it out, and look for guidance from them, would be what I would suggest at this point.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Ahead of the Curve: How Facilities Managed during the COVID-19 Pandemic


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