How COVID-19 Is Impacting California’s Prisons

In early April, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released figures that showed inmates infected with COVID-19 increased by more than seven times in just one week. Additionally, correction staff cases almost tripled. The numbers have spurred fear among both inmates and staff that COVID-10 cases will continue to rise unless new measures are taken to curb the spread.

Speaking to CNN, Samuel Brown, an inmate at California State Prison, Los Angeles County said, “You have people in Italy dying, people in Spain dying, people in America dying, people are panic buying, people are concerned and people are scared. And the truth of the matter is prisoners are people. So we're also afraid. And there's a potential of us dying, too."

According to prison officials, a mandatory two-week plan will be implemented across all adult prisons that will “change inmates' routines to include social distancing as well as proper disinfecting.”

Social Distancing Measures in Prisons

Some of the new social distancing measures that California’s prisons will be requiring include:

  1. Inmates will receive meals in cells or individual housing units
  2. Fewer inmates will be released for yard time
  3. Showers and telephones must be sanitized after each use
  4. Staff and visitors must have their temperature taken before entering any prison facilities
  5. Staff and visitors must disclose any symptoms they have

California Releases 1,300 Inmates

The state also announced it intended to eventually release at least 3,500 inmates from the prison population to help prevent the spread of the virus. This move will also free up space for quarantine and isolation of infected inmates. Inmates with 60 days or less remaining on their sentences and aren’t serving time for violent, sex, or domestic violence crimes are eligible for release. Inmates who will be released must first be screened for medical and health issues before they can return to the public.

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we are committed to fighting for the rights of clients throughout Los Angeles. If you would like to discuss if you or a loved one are eligible for early release from prison, please call us today at (800) 462-7160 to schedule a case consultation with a skilled criminal defense attorney at our firm.