The virus arrived in San Quentin after busloads of prisoners were transferred from another facility where infections were rising. What happened is a warning for the nation’s prisons, experts say.
H/T: New York Times
Within days, some of the 121 prisoners from the buses introduced the virus at San Quentin, public health officials say. More than 1,000 of the 3,700 prisoners have since been infected at San Quentin, the foreboding structure surrounded by barbed wire fences and dotted with guard towers that was once famously home to inmates including Charles Manson; Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy; and George Jackson, an inmate who wrote “Soledad Brother,” a series of letters from prison.
As if seeding one prison with coronavirus wasn't bad enough, reported subsequent transfers of infected prisoners from San Quentin to another correctional facility has led to over 200 new cases in Susanville.
Senator Nancy Skinner, from Berkeley who chairs the Public Safety Subcommittee, said the transfer of inmates from San Quentin to the California Correctional Center in Susanville has now triggered an outbreak at that prison, which houses vitally-needed inmate wildfire-fighting teams.
“The subsequent transfers from San Quentin to the correctional facility in Susanville — this happened after the transfer (of infected inmates) from Chino (to San Quentin) now has that facility with over 200 cases,” she said. “Susanville is the pipeline for our fire camps — and we’re in fire season.”
Another inmate, Skinner said, was transferred from San Quentin to Sacramento and led to the nurse and state prison employee who processed him now testing positive for the virus.
“These and the original transfers (from Chino to San Quentin) raise legitimate concerns and anger over the (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) CDCR handling of the pandemic,” she said.
She added that the San Quentin outbreak not only threatened inmates but also residents living in her district.
“The now major outbreak at San Quentin threatens the incarcerated people and staff there, but also Bay Area hospitals and local residents,” she said.
First, it was liberal state nursing homes that were seeded with coronavirus. Now, it's liberal state prisons. At what point is negligence no longer an adequate explanation for what's happening here?
Clark Kelso with @CACorrections says 25 out of 122 prisoners transferred earlier this month from the state prison in Chino to San Quentin tested positive.— Emily Elena Dugdale (@eedugdale) July 1, 2020
SQ “almost immediately fell behind the virus" after that.
There's been 42 hospital admissions from San Quentin.
WATCH: Tents were set up in the yard of San Quentin State Prison to treat inmates with COVID-19.— NBC 7 San Diego (@nbcsandiego) June 30, 2020
At least 1,011 cases of the virus have been reported there. https://t.co/69LYpKzgXH pic.twitter.com/Ede5udWhi5
For further reading: https://t.co/eh0jhFhF0E— THAT Amber (@buriedbybooks) July 1, 2020
Officials at CDCR knew this was coming. Advocates warned us in March. I followed up with calls, letters & two speeches on the Assembly Floor. But the transfer of inmates from Chino to San Quentin became the biggest prison health screw up in state history.https://t.co/YucYRtVgS1— Assemblymember Marc Levine (@AsmMarcLevine) June 30, 2020
California’s oldest state prison had no reported coronavirus cases weeks ago.— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 30, 2020
But a botched inmate transfer triggered soaring cases past 1,000 this week — dubbed the state's “biggest prison health screw up” in history by one lawmaker.https://t.co/J2Jxvdyejz