Weakley County Sheriff Discusses Local Response to Covid-19


NASHVILLE (March 25) — Tennessee’s 95 sheriffs are grappling with procedures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in their local jails. Some are even releasing non-violent inmates serving time for minor offenses a little bit early to thin overcrowding.

Locally, Weakley County Sheriff Mike Wilson states he has no plans to release inmates early to avoid the spread of COVID-19, because no cases of the virus are reported at the Weakley County Correctional Complex, so far, and overcrowding is currently not a problem.

“Right now, we’re in good shape population-wise, and we’re not releasing anybody until their time is up,” Sheriff Wilson said. “We’re doing what we can to make sure they maintain their health.”

He noted, if an inmate was to contract the coronavirus, the appropriate action would be taken, whether it involves releasing them, quarantining them, admitting them to the hospital, or whatever the situation demands.

To minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus, extra safety precautions remain in place until the threat of the dreaded virus passes. This includes no visitation at the jail, no GED classes, no church services, and no work release. The facility is regularly sanitized to prevent becoming infected. “We’re not allowing anybody in or anybody out,” Sheriff Wilson said.

“We’re restricting the number of people in the courtroom right now,” he said. Although some courtroom activities must be done in person, he said many of the court proceedings are handled by electronic means, this includes video arraignments.

“We need to be setting examples,” Sheriff Wilson said. “That means we don’t need to going to the show, to Walmart, or anywhere else unless absolutely necessary

In accordance with Marsy’s Law for Tennessee, an attempt must be made to notify crime victims concerning the release of inmates.

Sheriff Wilson states if an inmate is released, early or otherwise, victims can automatically be notified via the internet utilizing the Tennessee Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification Program (SAVIN). He explained that victims, or any interested party, may register online through SAVIN. “Until the victim acknowledges they have received the message, they keep on calling them back and texting them,” Sheriff Wilson said. He stated his department has promoted the program (SAVIN) using local news media.

SAVIN allows crime victims in participating counties to obtain timely and reliable information about an offender’s custody status 24 hours a day by telephone, through the internet, or by e-mail. Users can simply call a toll free number or go on-line to access the information. Go to the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department website http://www.weakleycountytn.gov/sheriffdept.html, then, click on “Victims Notification Program” near the bottom of the screen and follow the instructions.

Sheriff Mike Wilson