San Quentin Inmates Die From Covid-19

San Quentin

Over two thousand inmates across the state have active cases of Covid-19; Thirty-three has died as of Sunday.  To save inmates lives Gov. Gavin  Newsom announced there would be a release of around eight thousand inmates. The release will consist of those who are at risk of complications and those who were scheduled to leave soon. Secretary Ralph Diaz stated, “To continue to effectively fight this virus, we must create more space in our prisons”.  But inmates with 180 days or less on their sentence will be eligible first. Only those who have committed non-violent crimes, as defined by the state, qualify. Anyone required to register as a sex offender or found guilty of domestic violence is not eligible. 

Although this release of inmates will lower Covid-19 spread, some people are afraid of the effect it might have on society. For example, Nina Salarno Besselman with Crime Victims United worries these early releases will put the safety of the general public at risk. Besseleman stated “the state’s definition of violent crimes is too narrow and that dangerous offenders may still be let out. If the state wants to prevent outbreaks, they should instead focus on making prisons more sanitary.”. 

The California Department of Correction says supplies are given out every week, including cleaning and disinfecting supplies and personal protective equipment. But former inmate Charles Jones says otherwise. ” Jones stated, “I had no idea; they were bringing people in and putting tape everywhere.” he also stated “When the auditor comes out. They got the tape where you can social distance and stuff, but when they leave its back to normal.”. To not only make matters worse Jones revealed the quality of mask that prisoners are given, stating “… when I got released they gave me this N95 to put on. They should have given me this one when I was in there.”. 

While Governor Newsom is planning the early release of 8,000 inmates system-wide by August, Jones is claiming that’s not enough. “There were grown men crying. Gangsters were crying,” said Jones. As the outbreak intensifies, a medical command center was established with tents, and a facility turned into a 220-bed care site. Families and loved ones are keeping in contact with there inmates. Keeping them informed about the conditions that they are living in. Other prisons like San Quentin have also dealt with the rise in Covid-19 positive patients and are taking the precautions that will lower the spread of the virus.

Some families have begun protest for the release of inmates. Mothers like Shawnda Scott told FOX40 NEWS, that she is worried for her 35-year-old son who tested positive for COVID-19.  Scott also says it’s not safe for the inmates, stating “They’re not being fed properly. They’re not social distancing.” and “When given the opportunity to pay for the crime, it should not be a death sentence”. Saturday, July 11th,2020, family and loved ones of those incarcerated at Seagoville planned a protest to advocate for inmate releases. “There are people who qualify who’ve done very well, who really want to turn their lives around,” Michelle Trevino, the wife of a Seagoville inmate, told NB

like San Quentin, Coyote Ridge Corrections is also dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak. Family members of those in the facility are arguing inmates are being locked. away for thirty-six hours at a time, without access to toiletries and plumbing. Forcing inmates to urinate and defecate in their cells. Another prison located in Marin County has close to 400 inmates who have recovered from the virus and 200 staff members have caught the virus. 

Coordinators and leaders of the California Institue admitted to not testing inmates prior to transfer.  The San Francisco Chronicle has monitored the outbreak and has tracked the original spread from the California Institute for Men in Chino who was transferred to San Quentin. 

Written By Trinity Simmons-Brooks

Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

San Fransico Chronicle: Two more San Quentin prisoners die from COVID-19

MSNBC News: Two new deaths in San Quentin prison brings total to nine

Fox 40 News: Families of San Quentin inmates hope prisoner release order keeps other inmates healthy

ABC7News: San Quentin coronavirus: Former inmate says prison staff hides lack of sanitation in front of auditors

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