Story at a glance
- San Quentin State Prison in Northern California lost seven incarcerated people to COVID-19 infections.
- Advocates are calling for eligible prisoners to be released.
Seven inmate lives have been lost and 1,674 total coronavirus cases have been reported within San Quentin State Prison in California, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
There are 1,335 incarcerated individuals with active cases at San Quentin, and a reported 2309 cases have been resolved.
The crisis speaks to one of the hallmark characteristics of the coronavirus, which saw initial outbreaks in close, confined spaces, such as nursing homes.
Across California, there are 5,814 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among inmates at correctional facilities. The infection rate is exponentially larger among correctional facilities than the rest of the state, and the amount of testing performed is also significantly larger, reporting an average of 419.1 tests completed per 1,000 individuals, as opposed to the 86.3 average reported statewide.
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CNN reports that in a Thursday press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) discussed the high case count in San Quentin. The outbreak has been traced to the transfer of inmates from a nearby prison, the California Institute for Men at Chino.
"It is incredibly frustrating that we had one person make the decision to transfer a few patients from one prison, Chino, into San Quentin," Newsom reportedly said. "That decision created a chain of events that we are now addressing and dealing with. I'm not here to sugarcoat that."
Since the continued new case count, activists and lawmakers are vocalizing the need to release prisoners who are close to finishing their sentences, as well as immunocompromised or elderly inmates.
"California has not had an execution since 2006, yet six people from my understanding in the past few weeks have been executed by COVID while on death row," Adnan Khan, the executive director for Re:Store Justice, told CNN reporters.
San Quentin has reportedly released more than 500 detainees, either due to the pandemic or under other circumstances.
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