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COVID-19 & Texas Law

This guide is updated to reflect information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information in this guide is subject to change at any time.

Jail & Incarceration

Jail or Prison Visits


Previous executive orders from Governor Greg Abbott had prohibited in-person visitation at jails. However, Executive Order GA-34 issued on March 2nd, 2021 states that "county and municipal jails should follow guidance from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) regarding visitation." On March 3rd, 2021, TCJS issued standards that direct counties to make an in-person visitation plan and submit it to TCJS for approval. No information is given on how long this approval process will take.

State Prisons

As of March 15th, 2021, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) will allow in-person visitation to resume at all TDCJ units in Texas. Registration for face-to-face visits can be made over the phone by calling the inmate's unit beginning on March 10th, 2021, and an online booking system will be added in the near future.

New COVID-19 visitation restrictions will be in place, including limits on the length and number of in-person visits, required COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for visitors at facilities, and more. 

Release Without Bail, "Cite and Release," or Early Commutation of Sentence

Some county and municipal jails may be seeking to reduce their inmate populations in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Executive Order No. GA-13

On March 29th, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott placed limits on which types of inmates can be released without bail or have their sentence commuted during the COVID-19 outbreak. The order was challenged in the courts.

Guidance for Jails 

Compassionate Release