Virginia Beach sheriff suspends weekend program after COVID-19 causes concerns at city jail

Virginia Beach sheriff administration building.jpg
Posted at 4:10 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 16:27:14-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.- With more concerns over COVID-19, Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle is making changes to the city's jail. News 3 met up with Stolle, an inmate and two people who are part of the weekend program.

Guy Briesacher is part of a group of 80 people who will not be showing up to the Virginia Beach Jail this weekend to serve their sentence after the decision was made to suspend the weekend program.

“It’s 50-50 for me - it’s kind a good kind of bad. Of course I want to get this out of the way and over with, but the good news is now I get to go to Myrtle Beach next weekend,” said Briesacher.

Another weekend inmate gave her opinion and had similar feelings.

“Of course I want it to be done, but I also have to consider my health as well,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified.

“Every time somebody penetrates the skin of the jail, I’m concerned about whether they have COVID or not,” said Stolle.

The sheriff said right now, no inmates or staff have COVID-19. He also said no one at the jail has died from the virus, but months ago they hit a peak with 144 inmates and about 20 staff members who had been diagnosed.

Stolle said 46% of inmates are vaccinated, and the jail says about once a month they offer vaccines to the inmates.

“When I first came in, they offered me the vaccine, so I got it. I got the Johnson & Johnson,” said Christopher Canady.

Stolle says they’ve vaccinated 463 inmates inside the jail.

“Being confined like this with a bunch of people, it just takes one person, and it spreads so fast,” said Canady, who said he is grateful for the shot.

Stolle said he believes COVID-19 may have previously been spread through the vents in the building, so they made changes to how they were housing people.

He also said they’re considering separating vaccinated inmates from the unvaccinated, but says they’re currently analyzing the logistics behind that move.

Overall, he says between civil unrest, staffing issues and the pandemic, the last year has been tough for those in law enforcement.

Related: News 3 gets exclusive look at how Virginia Beach jail works to try and keep COVID-19 away

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 43 years. It’s the most difficult year I’ve ever seen in law enforcement - for the deputies, for the staff, for everyone involved,” said Stolle.

Some of the inmates from the weekend program will qualify for ankle monitoring system that they could wear and serve out their sentence.

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