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The coronavirus pandemic has swept the nation and has had a devastating impact on prisons and jails. As the virus spread through the California state prison system, the state government decided to grant early release to 3,500 inmates to reduce crowding and limit the spread of the virus.
Lawyers for Gov. Gavin Newsom assured federal judges that the state is taking “extraordinary and unprecedented protective measures” to limit the virus’s reach and keep the thousands of people who are incarcerated or employed in prisons safe. However, some lawyers representing California prisoners have requested more protective measures, particularly for prisoners who face a higher risk of death if they contract the virus, like older prisoners and those who are medically compromised.
What are State Prisons Doing to Slow COVID-19?
California state prisons have locked down cell blocks where inmates have displayed flu-like symptoms. Inmates who share these cells with symptomatic prisoners who are not showing symptoms themselves have not been removed. Inmate testing began on March 7, and the virus is reported in at least ten state prisons.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation paused inmate visitation and volunteer programs and started using touch thermometers to screen its 67,000 employees before work. Within the first three days of screening, 170 workers with high temperatures were sent home.
California has also blocked the transfer of county jail inmates to the state’s prison system, which state lawyers claimed would keep an extra 3,000 inmates out of prison. In dorms where prisoners are barely two feet apart from each other and share sinks and showers, the prisons plan on sending them to more spacious facilities.
Who is being released early from prison in California due to COVID-19?
Governor Newsome has assured California residents that he has carefully considered the early release of prisoners and that the state has selected prisoners who were to be released over the next 60 days and were serving for nonviolent offenses. Prisoners who were accused of sex crimes, violent crimes, and domestic violence will not be released.
Has COVID-19 Been Contained in California Prisons?
COVID-19 has, unfortunately, spread like wildfire throughout the country’s prisons. According to The Marshall Project, which reports on criminal justice issues, at least 9,437 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among prisoners in state and federal prisons nationwide since April 22, 2020. Many prison workers have also contracted the virus, and more than 100 deaths have already been reported.
The Mercury News has also reported that nearly half of all inmates at Terminal Island prison in San Pedro have tested positive for coronavirus. This includes more than 440 inmates — the most of any federal prison in the country and more than all California prisons combined. Across the country, it has been reported that more than 70% of inmates tested in federal prisons have COVID-19.
Prisoners and their families have voiced concerns since the virus started to spread that not enough is being done to contain the outbreak. Prison facilities in the U.S., long known for being overcrowded, are referred to as “Petri dishes.” Prisons don’t allow inmates to have hand sanitizer, were only recently issued face masks, and have been slow to isolate symptomatic inmates.
Now is the Time to Fight Your Criminal Charge Aggressively
In these uncertain times, it’s more crucial than ever to hire an aggressive criminal defense lawyer in San Diego with a successful track record. Your freedom is important and is worth fighting for. Whether you face a misdemeanor or felony conviction, your case is serious and deserves top representation.
Attorney Dod of Dod Law helps people from all walks of life resolve all types of criminal charges. He has more than 17 years of experience fighting to protect the rights of accused persons. With more than 75 jury trials and more than 400 preliminary hearings, you can count on him to provide a strong defense. Call (619) 814-5110 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.