COVID IN PRISONS AND JAILS: CACJ Policy Recommendations
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on prisons across the State. CDCR is seeing a tragic spread of the disease in prisons like San Quentin, Susanville, and many others. San Quentin alone has reported over 1,000 cases, and cases continue to rise across the prison system. Many inmates across the state are also considered high risk, making this spread even more concerning. These outbreaks are not isolated incidents and require broad reforms in order to be addressed.
It is more important now than ever for the State to respond aggressively to curtail the spread in our prisons. If significant steps are not taken to address this outbreak, we will continue to see cases skyrocket, and deaths mount, among the incarcerated population. While CDCR has made efforts to protect inmates and reduce exposure, the recent spike in prison cases shows that much more needs to be done.
CACJ, its members, and their clients are stakeholders in the design and implementation of policies to protect the lives of inmates across the state. To that end, CACJ request that the attached list of specific policy reforms be implemented to better protect our state’s prisoners.
Immediately reinstate temporary ban on receipt of new admissions to any CDCR facility and prohibit transfer of inmates between CDCR facilities for at least 90 days;
Before any transfer, CDCR all inmates should test negative for COVID-19 no more than 48 hours prior to the transfer;
Immediately release sufficient inmates from each CDCR facility so that the total population of each is less than the rated capacity; Prioritize those with non-violent offenses and those with less than 3 years left on sentences.
Begin an immediate review of inmates with less than three years to serve and release within 30 days on parole or temporary community supervision all who are not currently serving a term on a violent felony as defined by Penal Code §667.5(c);
Do not release any inmate from CDCR unless they have a negative test result for COVID-19within 48 hours prior to release. Make tests available 72 hours prior to release for any inmate falling within the criteria above;
Require the Attorney General, using his supervisory powers over local jails, to require release of all pretrial jail inmates held only on misdemeanors, and all pre-trial inmates held on felonies except those with charges listed in §667.5(c), and to release all convicted inmates with less than one year to serve, who have not been committed to the CDCR on community supervision;
Establish independent oversight of CDCR and local jails to ensure prompt compliance with the release requirements and oversight of COVID testing and management practices in each facility;
Conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the spread of COVID-19 testing at San Quentin and Susanville state prisons, and adopted mandated protocols to prevent future outbreaks;
Provide health services and testing to anyone released from a CDCR facility;
Provide all inmates deprived of personal visiting privileges due to COVID-19 mitigation measures including unlimited free telephone and/or video conferencing with their attorneys.
Require a minimum of monthly COVID-19 testing of all jail and prison inmates, staff, employees, and sworn personnel.
Provide state and county inmates with either daily disposable or reusable face masks.
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