California Prisons: Inmate transfer caused health disaster

Health disaster in California prisons – as a consequence of ignored warnings: outbreaks of COVID-19 in various prisons, inmates and Correctional Officers deaths.

California is facing prisons and jails overcrowding, and a new strain of COVID-19, which we have already talked about in the article: “California State Prisons: COVID and Fundamental Rights”

According to recent news, California prisons officials wanted to protect the inmates from the coronavirus, transferring them from one facility to another. Instead, this action unleashed a “public health disaster” that lead to thousands of detainees being infected and surely 28 deaths, along with a Correctional Officer. Authorities ignored warnings from health officials and some outdated tests failed to detect some inmates’ virus positivity. The trip to transfer inmates, which was made in buses, increased the risk of the infection spreading. Furthermore, emails have also shown a health care executive at the Southern California prison explicitly ordering that inmates should not be retested the day before the transfer.

The danger has been amplified by the inexplicable decision of increasing the number of inmates on the buses in order to move more rapidly the detainee from one prison to another, without taking into consideration that even just one positive person would put at risk the health of every prisoner. The decision to move inmates from the Southern California prison came while an outbreak was sweeping through the facility, infecting more than 650 inmates and 55 staff.

Corcoran and San Quentin – the two prisons that have received the inmates– reacted differently to the outbreak of Coronavirus. In San Quentin, the transferred inmates were put into a housing unit without solid doors, that allowed the virus to circulate without any problems. On the other side, Corcoran had a smaller outbreak probably because the inmates were housed behind solid doors reducing the circulation of the virus.

What are the actions taken by CDCR to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

According to the website of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, additional actions have been made in order to reduce population and maximize space. Since April 2020, the department is releasing incarcerated people serving a sentence for non-violent offenses and who do not have to register as sex offenders.

Measures such as mandating the use of masks, providing increased hygiene and disinfecting supplies, and finding alternative housing sites (gyms and chapels) have slowed down the spread of COVID-19. CDCR is now facing the issue of overcrowded prisons, trying to decompress the population in order to achieve adequate physical distancing.


CDCR patients

According to CDCR’s website, the total confirmed cases are 48,102, with 1,604 new cases in the last two weeks. 1,782 are the active covid cases, 694 people have been released while active, and 45,427 are the resolved cases. 199 are the deaths reported by CDCR.

Wasco State Prison has the highest number of active cases. Followed by Ironwood State Prison, Solano CA State Prison, Mule Creek State Prison, and Deuel Vocational Institution. On the other side, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison has only 1 active case.

Avenal State Prison has the highest number of resolved cases, with a total of 3,009. The facilities with the highest number of deaths are San Quentin, CA Institution for Men, Correctional Training Facility, Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, and the CA State Prison, LA.

The Substance Abuse Treatment Facility has the highest number of patients tested in the last 14 days, with a total of 2,170 people tested and a percentage of 50% of the whole population, followed by Mule Creek State Prison, Corcoran State Prison, and Solano State Prison. The institution with the highest percentage of the population tested in the last 14 days is the California Institution for Men with 91% of the population tested. However, Kern Valley State Prison has only tested the 9% of the population in the last 14 days with a total of 340 people tested, being the facility with the lowest percentage of the population tested.


Read the Italian version here

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  • Ottimo articolo, ben scritto e incentrato sul far luce su tematiche sfortunatamente estranee al dibattito quotidiano odierno. Complimenti per il lavoro.

  • Articolo interessantissimo! Complimenti all’autrice che riesce a trattare il tema in modi sempre nuovi e sconvolgenti!!

  • This situation will not go unnoticed… As always, congrats for your article, it perfectly describes the sad reality

  • I’m once again sharing this, hoping it won’t go unnoticed!

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