Homeless inmates raise health concerns at El Paso County Jail

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - Employees at the El Paso County Jail are having to house inmates with contagious health issues, many of them tied to the transient population according to officials with the sheriff's office.

On Tuesday, 11 News learned at least one inmate tested positive for Hepatitis A, another has scabies and a third who has lice.

"They are all isolated incidents," Public Information Officer Jacqueline Kirby with the sheriff's office explained. "They are all being treated appropriately and they are being house appropriately so as not to infect anyone else. We absolutely are seeing an increase in these kinds of issues with our transient and homeless population not getting the medical care they sometimes need."

The health issues are on top of problems tied to overpopulation at the jail. 11 News reported back on Feb. 19 the jail hit a record high for inmates, housing 1,717.

“When we have problems with fights and attempted suicide and things like that, it typically manifests itself more often when we have more people in the jail," Sheriff Bill Elder explained back in February.

The maximum capacity for the jail is a little more than 1,930 inmates, and Elder expects to be hitting a daily average of 1,800 by summer 2019.

Only one inmate was in quarantine as of Tuesday.

The recent health issues of inmates are not tied to a contagious skin outbreak in February that forced 28 inmates into quarantine.

"The employees who were exposed have also been given the appropriate post-exposure anaphylactic" Kirby wrote to 11 News in an e-mail. "We are working closely with the Public Health Department as we become aware of these cases."