Half a dozen inmates have died and more than 1,300 inmates have been infected by the coronavirus at San Quentin State Prison in Northern California, as advocates urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to release more prisoners.
In late May, San Quentin prison had zero confirmed cases of the virus among its around 4,000 inmates. But after more than 120 prisoners were transferred in from another facility in Chino — 25 of whom later tested positive for COVID-19 — an outbreak began that has grown to devastating proportions in recent weeks. As of Tuesday, 1,369 people incarcerated at San Quentin and 184 staffers had tested positive, adding up to more than 1,500 infected with the virus, per the state’s tracking tool. Only 13 inmates with active cases have been released so far.
Prisoners advocates and state politicians have been calling for Newsom to release more inmates in response to the crisis.
On Monday, the Democratic governor said that his administration has been working on the issue “every single day for the last three weeks” and that it was a “top priority.” His plan is to bring the prison’s population down to about 3,000 inmates over the “next few weeks” and he was “individually” reviewing cases, Newsom said.
It was not clear if all of the inmates to be removed to reduce San Quentin’s population would be released from prison entirely or if some would be transferred to other facilities. The governor’s office and the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for further comment.
Last week, 20 inmates at San Quentin went on a hunger strike to protest its inhumane conditions, including dirty, cramped cells, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Juan Moreno Haines, a journalist incarcerated in San Quentin who said he’s tested positive for COVID-19, told The Appeal last week that people were still locked up with others in cells ― a practice that ignores social distancing...