“It is incredibly frustrating that a person has decided to transfer some patients from a prison, Chino, to San Quentin,” Newsom told a news conference on Thursday. “This decision created a chain of events that we are now dealing with and dealing with. I am not here to sweeten this up.”
The prison escaped unscathed from the first months of the pandemic until cases began to rise in late May, after a transfer of detainees from the Institution to California Men in Chino.
Several lawyers and lawmakers met in San Quentin on Thursday, calling for the release of medically vulnerable and elderly detainees.
“California has not had an execution since 2006, but six people of my understanding in the past few weeks have been executed by Covid while on death row,” said Adnan Khan, executive director of Re: Store Justice, a reform group advocating for criminal justice. .
California authorities release prisoners who have almost finished their sentences since March due to the pandemic. In San Quentin, more than 500 detainees have been released due to accelerated and natural releases, the CDCR said.
Within the prison and prisons, the pandemic could not seem more palpable, as detainees were forced to live, work and eat in nearby locations.
Correctional facilities across the country have become the main hotspots for the virus in recent months and San Quentin is just the most recent.
Nearly 100 people died at Texas facilities
Before the outbreak in San Quentin, the virus devastated correctional facilities in central Ohio, Illlinois, Colorado and Texas, where at least 91 people incarcerated and nine Covid-19 employees died, according to the state’s criminal justice department.
Correction officials are still trying to determine whether 26 additional deaths are related to the virus.
About 130,000 people are incarcerated at the Texas facility and more than 10,500 detainees have owned or owned Covid-19. At least 1,927 employees also tested positive for the virus, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Unlike California and other states, Texas officials have not mobilized to release inmates eligible for probation or those nearing the end of their sentences, in an effort to reduce the population and slow the spread of the virus, despite requests from lawyers and family members.
Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order in March to prevent the release of “dangerous criminals” from prison.
“We want to prevent the spread of # COVID19 among prison officials and prisoners. But releasing dangerous criminals on the streets is not the solution,” tweeted the governor at the time. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report saying that more than 570 people incarcerated and more than 50 correctional officers died. The ACLU analyzed states’ response to Covid-19 in prisons and prisons and found that many states took very few actions to “implement a system-wide cohesive response to protect and save lives” in the midst of the pandemic.
Coronavirus infections are more than 5 times higher in prisons
A study released earlier this week showed that the number of incarcerated people infected with Covid-19 and the coronavirus-related mortality rate in federal and state prisons is higher than the general US population. “The number of US prison residents who tested positive for Covid-19 was 5.5 times that of the general US population,” said an analysis led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The researchers said the disparity could be worse because mass testing in some prisons revealed large outbreaks of covid-19 “with infection rates in excess of 65%”, but many facilities are not testing inmates or just symptomatic people.
The study analyzed cases and deaths from March 31 to June 6, using data publicly available on the websites of the departments of corrections, reports and other sources. As of June 6, there were more than 42,100 cases of Covid-19 and 510-related deaths among the nearly 1.3 million people incarcerated, the researchers said.
“They gave us fragile paper masks”, says the detainee
Families and supporters are calling for better conditions in the Prince George County jail in Maryland, and now actors Jesse Williams and Alec Baldwin, singer Fiona Apple and several Broadway actors have joined them.
“We are locked in for twenty-three hours or more a day in our hot cells. I have an hour to shower, use the phone and clean my cell phone. There is no social distance on the phones,” Baldwin said in a video as he read a statement of a 39-year-old detainee. The video is one of several messages recorded by celebrities, lawyers and activists from “Gasping for Justice”, an initiative of the Hear Us impact defense project to share first-hand accounts of detainees. The statements were part of a federal lawsuit filed in March on behalf of the detainees, describing unhealthy and crowded conditions in Prince George’s prison. “I don’t think it’s clean enough here, and we’re not getting enough cleaning supplies. I try to keep my cell phone clean, but they won’t let us use bleach. I ask for spray-nine and the guards say no.” I use a cloth and my hands. When I find a way to sneak a spray nine, I also use it, “said another detainee in a statement, read by Broadway actor” Jagged Little Pill “, Sean Allan Krill.” They gave us fragile paper masks. The guards tell us not to lose our masks because we cannot obtain a replacement, “added the detainee’s statement.” Not all prisoners wear masks; nor the guards. “
Scott Hechinger, public defender and director of Zealous, a national initiative to support advocates and communities to move their actions out of court, said the pandemic only made conditions in corrections like those of Prince George even more visceral.
“Just because there are no cameras inside, that doesn’t mean there is no injustice,” Hechinger told CNN.
On Wednesday, there were 19,456 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Prince George County, according to data from the state health department.
Crowded places with inadequate ventilation may be at risk, says WHO
Coast-to-coast prisons and prisons have been suffering from a lack of ventilation for years and now this could also put them at risk of contracting Covid-19.
The World Health Organization recognized on Thursday that outbreaks of coronavirus in “crowded and closed places” may suggest that droplets of the virus may travel through the air, but there are still many unanswered questions about airborne transmission and “more studies are urgently needed. needed “. The transmission of the virus occurs mainly through “direct, indirect or close contact with infected people through infected secretions, such as saliva and respiratory secretions, or through respiratory droplets, which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings” , said the WHO in a statement. report updated Thursday.
“Aerosol transmission” cannot be ruled out as a factor in reported outbreaks in restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship, as well as in “crowded and inadequately ventilated places where infected people spend long periods of time with other people,” said the WHO.
CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Jacqueline Howard and Ben Tinker contributed to this report.