By Jeff Todd

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – As the state shifts its focus on where and how to vaccinate Coloradans against COVID-19, jails are playing a bigger role to protect the community. The Broomfield County Jail conducts vaccination clinics for inmates and staff on Fridays.

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“The average time of custody for our inmates is less than 26 days so we didn’t want to create a situation where an inmate got vaccinated on their first shot and then cycled out to the community and they’re not fully vaccinated,” said Broomfield Police Commander Shawn Laughlin.

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A few weeks ago, in consultation with several city agencies including Broomfield Public Health, the jail began administering both Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The J&J vaccine is one dose. The inmate population is only about 50 people, half of what is average before the pandemic, but almost all inmates have taken their shots.

“I would consider it a huge success we’re at about an 85% vaccination rate, which overshoots our goal of 80% and again most of the inmates are going back into the community so the fact that they’re leaving here vaccinated that’s the success,” Laughlin said.

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“I just did my part,” said Marcus Jamsay, an inmate who will be released in the fall.

On Friday, he received his second dose of Moderna. He says he has grandparents in their 80s and he wanted to get vaccinated for more members of his family.

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“I got three girls so, when I get out of here, I don’t have to worry. I’m fully vaccinated,” he said. “I’m going to feel good. The first shot wasn’t bad, just sore to touch, that’s the only side effects I had.”

Laughlin says with such a large segment of the population vaccinated it’s allowed the jail to bring back services like education and in-person programs.

“It allows us to basically get back to normal in the sense you can for a correctional facility,” he said.

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The average stay of an inmate at the Broomfield jail is only 26 days, and the program is viewed as a way to help keep people safe both inside the jail and out.

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“We have an obligation to change the trajectory that the inmate was on before they came to the facility, so we see that in how we build our relationships with the inmates inside the facility, so when we offer programs like this it’s a great response. They want to be prepared to be back in the community,” Laughlin said.

Jeff Todd