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ACLU files lawsuit against Sheriff Bill Elder amid COVID outbreak at jail

 Photo courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
Photo courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office. (KKTV)
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 8:47 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The ACLU is suing El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder over the COVID-19 outbreak at the jail.

According to the lawsuit obtained by 11 News, inmates claim the jail is not doing enough to keep them safe.

We reached out to the sheriff’s office. They’re not commenting because of the pending lawsuit.

“When you are in that close quarters, there is absolutely no way to maintain any kind of acceptable social distancing,” Jacqueline Reed, the spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, said this past spring.

The jail’s outbreak in October was one of the largest in the state. Since the pandemic started, more than 1,000 inmates have tested positive and more than 150 staff members, including one death, Deputy Jeff Hopkins.

Now, inmates are saying in this lawsuit that not enough is being done to protect them from the spread of the virus.

“We’ve been inundated by these kinds of personal stories that the inmates are experiencing inside the jail,” said Jamie Hubbard, an attorney working with the ACLU. “Many of them are heartbreaking.”

The lawsuit claims the inmates made makeshift masks out of anything they could find and were punished.

“Wearing their underwear across their face to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 would result in them being sent into solitary confinement or segregation,” Hubbard added.

In the lawsuit, one inmate says she was pregnant and has asthma and was kept in a room with seven inmates who have tested positive.

The lawsuit isn’t asking for any money, it just wants changes made to the jail, like giving each inmate two cloth masks to wear so they still have one as they wash the other, in addition to keeping infected inmates isolated.

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