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Covid 19 in prisons
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Thread: Covid 19 in prisons

  1. #1
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Covid 19 in prisons

    11 Angola lifers have died of COVID-19 since pandemic began

    BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Eleven Louisiana men who have died of coronavirus since April of this year had one thing in common. They were all serving life sentences at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

    In all, twelve Angola inmates have died of the virus. The twelfth inmate who died was serving a ten-year sentence for molesting a juvenile.

    Hit hard early on the pandemic, the prison has not seen another coronavirus-related death since May 24, records show. In addition to the twelve inmate deaths, 169 other inmates have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, the Louisiana Department of Corrections reported. Most have since recovered. As of this week, Angola was reporting only four inmates who still had the virus.

    According to autopsy and prison records reviewed by WAFB-TV, the Angola inmates who have died of coronavirus include:

    MEYERS, LLOYD Age 69, Aggravated Rape committed on 2-23-1981. Sentenced to life in prison on 11-9-91. Lafayette Parish.
    CARPENTER, LARRY Age 77, Molestation of a Juvenile. Offenses occurred on 11-1-13. Sentenced to 10 years in prison on 11-18-15. Washington Parish.
    CANTRELLO, JOHN Age 69, First Degree Murder, committed on 6-25-1977. Sentenced to life in prison on 11-8-1977. Orleans Parish.
    BROOMFIELD, EARL Age 78, 2nd Degree Murder. Offense occurred on 8-17-1980. Sentenced to life in prison on 5-27-82. Orleans Parish.
    DEWATERS, RAYMOND Age 65, Second Degree Murder. Offense occurred on 4-12-1998. Sentenced to life in prison on 6-16-99. Tangipahoa Parish.
    FRANCIS SR, JAMES R Age 70, Second Degree Murder. Offense occurred on 8-31-08. Sentenced to life in prison on 8-7-12. Lafayette Parish.
    GIDDENS, CLYDE Age 79, Murder (sentenced to life in prison), Arson (sentenced to 10 years), both offenses occurred on 9-19-1963. Sentenced on 10-20-1964. Natchitoches Parish.
    MOSER JR, JOHN L Age 84, Aggravated Rape (Life in prison) and Aggravated Crime Against Nature (15 years, consecutive) Offenses occurred on 11-1-1982. Sentenced on 4-27-1984. Orleans Parish.
    MITCHELL, ALFRED Age 78, 2nd Degree Murder. Offense occurred on 1-3-1989. Sentenced to life in prison on 12-14-1989. Orleans Parish.
    PERKINS, HERBERT Age 59, Aggravated Rape (life in prison), Aggravated Burglary (30 years, concurrent), and Armed Robbery (25 years, concurrent). Offenses occurred on 7-21-1980. Sentenced on 7-21-1981. East Baton Rouge Parish.
    TASSIN, ROBERT Age 62, Second Degree Murder (sentenced to life in prison) (originally First Degree Murder with the Death Penalty). Offense occurred on 11-6-1986. Sentenced to death on 6-2-1987, and resentenced to life on 11-18-2011. Jefferson Parish.
    WILLIAMS, MICHAEL Age 69, First Degree Murder (sentenced to life in prison) (originally First Degree Murder with the Death Penalty). Offense occurred on 12-6-1974, Aggravated Battery (2 years) offense occurred on 8-25-1978. Sentenced on 4-7-1978 for the murder. Jefferson Parish.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    How Long Can You Hide a Dead Body in a Prison Cell?

    If things were a little too quiet in a particular cell in the Texas prison, the guards didnt notice. If one of the two men locked inside didnt stand up to be counteda process that is supposed to happen at least nine times a dayno one reported it. If there was an awful smell, nobody said a word.

    It wasnt until Cornelius Harper asked prison staff to check on his cellmate that they realized the man was dead. Had been dead for at least three days. Had been choked and beaten so badly he had dried blood and bruises all over his face.

    Given that the prison was on lockdown, there werent many suspects. Harper hasnt been charged, but officials say he killed his cellie and tried to hide it, covering the body with a sheet that rippled in the breeze from the cracked window, mimicking movement.

    Some officials have suggested that Harper may have done more, perhaps positioning and repositioning the body of 26-year-old Silvino Nez to make it seem as if he were alive in his cell in the Clements Unit in Amarillo. Investigators say Harper has confessed to the murder; he did not respond to letters requesting comment.

    Three months later, officials have released few details, but some things are clear: Harper, 33, had a history of fatal violence and severe mental health problems. At the time of the killing, he was already six years into a life sentence for a triple murder that had nearly gotten him the death penalty. Records show hed been hearing voices for more than a decade and had a pattern of refusing to take his medication.

    Despite that, Harperlike thousands of other prisoners during the pandemicwas locked almost 24 hours a day in an 8-by-11 cell with Nez, who was serving a 10-year sentence for stabbing his mother. Like the rest of the men in Clements Unit, Harper and Nez had no recreation, visits or phone calls, conditions even more restrictive than usual for a maximum-security prison in Texas.

    A prison spokesman confirmed some details about the killing but did not comment on the states handling of mentally ill prisoners during long-term lockdowns.

    To experts and prison-reform advocates, the dire consequences are an I-told-you-so moment.

    This was entirely predictable that people were going to be having exacerbated mental health symptoms, said Michele Deitch, a prisons expert and senior lecturer at the University of Texas at Austins LBJ School of Public Affairs. You have people vulnerable with mental health issues and all the stress from the COVID crisis and youre locking them down and denying them access to their families and support systems.

    To Nezs family, it was a painful and unexpected end. Silvino Nez was a grandson, son, brother, cousin and nephew, Estela Nunez wrote on a GoFundMe page seeking to raise money for a funeral. Let he or her who is innocent cast the first stone. She did not respond to a request for comment.

    As the pandemic spread in the spring, prisons began locking down to try to enforce social distancing and avoid major outbreaks. Early on, experts worried that such responses would be particularly hard on mentally ill people behind bars. How hard can be difficult to quantify unless the result is a dead body; Texas tracking of less fatal outcomessuch as assaults, use or force, or suicide attemptshas been unreliable.

    In England and Wales, the Guardian reported a rash of prison suicides, five in six days, that sparked alarm among critics there, who attributed the deaths to harsh conditions of indefinite lockdowns.

    In the U.S., Oregons federal public defender said she worried one prisoners suicide and two other reports of serious self-harm could be due to the continuing stress of the restrictive conditions.

    The psychological and physical stress of the 14-day lockdown is becoming overwhelming for some of the inmates and detainees, the public defender, Lisa Hay, told the Oregonian. One man at FCI Sheridan told Hays legal team that a fellow prisoner had slashed himself because he could not stand being locked up this long.

    A few weeks later, Hays office filed suit against the prison.

    In Texas, Deputy Inspector General Joe Buttitta, whose office investigates all prison deaths, said hed seen a slight uptick in suicides amid the pandemic. In one instance, a man jumped off the walkway outside a third-floor cell at an East Texas prison and killed himself; several prisoners wrote The Marshall Project to say that hed leaped to his death just after finding out hed tested positive for COVID-19. Its not clear whether he had pre-existing mental health problems.

    The same cannot be said for Harper, the man officials believe killed his cellmate; his history of mental health struggles was long and publicly documented. Though he did not respond to a letter requesting comment, extensive court records tell some of his life story.

    Born in Abilene, Harper survived a childhood of neglect and abuse, spending his early years with a mother who struggled with drug addiction. His parents lived separately and were never married. At age 7 he moved to Chicago to live with his father. In his teens, Harper began hearing voices, according to court records. He skipped school, and started smoking pot and drinking. Then at 16, he took part in a robbery and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    After five years he got out on parole, but in early 2011 was arrested near Houston after authorities said he killed his cousin, his cousins pregnant girlfriend and her unborn child. Prosecutors alleged the murders all stemmed from a dispute over money and a car, but Harper maintained his innocence and took the case to trial.

    While waiting in the county jail for his day in court, Harper tried strangling himself. He sometimes refused to take medication for fear of the side effects and told an expert tasked with ting him that he still heard voices and had tried to kill himself nine times.

    Despite questions about his competency, a jury found him guilty of capital murder in 2014. But the jurors decided there were enough mitigating factors that he shouldnt be put to death, so he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

    At the time of the slaying, the 3,800-man prison where he was held was severely understaffed; roughly half of the corrections-officer positions sat vacant at the end of April. The unit was on lock-down by April 8, and five days later Harper told prison staff to check on his cellmate.

    They found Nez dead in his bunk. Its not clear how his death went unnoticed, but the warden recommended firing four officers. As of early July, three were still employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, state records show.

    Security rounds are a must and all staff should be doing them but at the same time TDCJ needs to make sure they have proper staffing levels, said Jeff Ormsby, a union leader for state prison employees in Texas. Officials said Wednesday that for the first time in recent memory the agency has more than 5,000 guard vacancies, out of almost 26,000 positions. The agency is short an additional 1,000 correction officers due to quarantine.

    When youre working people 16 to 20 hours a day, they take shortcuts, Ormsby continued. Dealing with any inmates can be difficult, but mentally ill inmates even more so. But dealing with mentally ill inmates when youre short-staffed and tired is even worse.

    To some prisoners, the incident highlights how serious the units staffing problems are, and how little concern some officers seem to have for the people theyre guarding.

    To others, it highlights the recurring nightmare of being locked in a tiny, uncooled cell with someone in the throes of a mental health crisis.

    Its almost impossible to get your cell changed, one man told me. You try to explain, Look, man, this guys a psych patient. Hes on pills. Hes seeing things. Hes hearing things. Hes a cutter. Whatever the case may be, youre going to end up having to either have a fight with a guy or hes going to have to kill you or youre going to have to kill him.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  3. #3
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    Oct 2010
    Two more inmates die in Kentucky state prisons, bringing COVID-19 death toll to eight

    Two more inmates have died in recent days after testing positive for COVID-19 at Kentuckys 13 state prisons, bringing the death toll to eight as of Monday night.

    Since March, 805 state inmates or 7.2 percent of the prisons population have been infected with the novel coronavirus, as have 117 prison employees. On Monday, the Kentucky Department of Corrections confirmed 373 active inmate cases and 48 active staff cases.

    So far, there have been four inmate deaths at the Kentucky State Reformatory in Oldham County, three inmate deaths at the Green River Correctional Complex in Muhlenberg County and one inmate death at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Lyon County.

    Gov. Andy Beshears administration has declined to identify inmates dying in its custody during the pandemic.

    Major COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in recent months at three state prisons: the Kentucky State Reformatory, the Green River Correctional Complex and the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Shelby County.

    A fourth outbreak could be looming. As of Monday, 12 inmates and eight staff were infected at Northpoint Training Center, a medium-security, 551-acre complex in Boyle County that houses 1,113 men.

    A federal lawsuit filed by inmates at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women, where 234 inmates have been infected, alleges the Department of Corrections responded slowly and clumsily to the coronavirus.

    The female inmates say inadequate cleaning, masking and social distancing have allowed the virus to race around inside prison walls, putting their lives unnecessarily at risk. For instance, they say, KCIWs maximum security unit has no air conditioning. When temperatures soar into the 90s this summer, inmates crowd into the one trailer with an air conditioner unit, so there is no room to move anywhere without being in someones face.

    I feel like since the COVID outbreak, I am an inmate thats sitting on Death Row, one of the plaintiffs, Jerahco Walls, 31, testified at a hearing.

    Every day is just a question of, am I going to contract the COVID today and am I going to be alive tomorrow? My biggest fear is not being able to go home to my children and not being able to be there for them, Walls said.

    In their response to the suit, state corrections officials say they moved swiftly last spring to protect inmates from COVID-19. Outside visitation was canceled and inmate transfers between facilities mostly were halted, officials said, while masks and additional cleaning materials were distributed throughout the prisons.

    I have consulted with the Kentucky Department of Public Health for expert advice on providing a safe environment for inmates, Corrections Commissioner Cookie Crews said in a June 26 deposition.

    Since Crews gave her deposition, infections have quadrupled at the womens prison.

    Last month, the ACLU of Kentucky wrote a letter urging Crews to test all state inmates in every prison for the coronavirus in order to get ahead of the next outbreak.

    Instead, the department has waited until COVID-19 outbreaks were underway to begin mass testing at Green River and KCIW. Only then were prison officials able to segregate inmates into different housing units based on whether they had tested positive or negative or had been exposed to someone who tested positive.

    Apart from Kentuckys state prisons, seven inmates have died and at least 337 inmates and 10 employees have been infected during a COVID-19 outbreak at the Federal Medical Center, a federal prison on Leestown Road in Lexington. But that outbreak appears to have mostly abated, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

    There also has been a smaller outbreak, with no deaths reported, at the federal prison in Clay County, with 45 inmates and seven staff infected, according to the Bureau of Prisons. One inmate has recovered at the Federal Correctional Institution-Manchester, officials say.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  4. #4
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    Oct 2010
    Protesters chained to governor's home as prison deaths mount

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Demonstrators chaining themselves to a fence outside Gov. Gavin Newsoms home called for mass prison releases and an end to immigration transfers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Monday's protest came as deaths mounted at a San Francisco Bay Area prison where another condemned inmate died over the weekend.

    The California Highway Patrol cut the chains linking protesters to the gate of Newsom's residence in suburban Sacramento after about two hours.

    Also, on Monday more than 100 University of California, San Francisco doctors were among 750 people signing a statement delivered to Newsom calling for more prison releases.

    Newsom says such mass releases would risk leaving thousands of parolees homeless.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  5. #5
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    23 Ohio death row inmates test positive for COVID-19

    By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
    Associated Press

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) More than 20 Ohio death row inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak flaring up just this past week, The Associated Press has learned.

    The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction confirmed the first case to the AP on July 24 but by Friday said the number had jumped to 23.

    Thirteen of those inmates were tested based on their symptoms and 10 were asymptomatic and tested through contract tracing, said prisons spokesperson JoEllen Smith.

    Medical staff are monitoring the inmates, who are being quarantined and isolated under the prison system's coronavirus policy, Smith said.

    The inmates are all housed at Chillicothe Correctional Institution in southern Ohio, where the state's death row is based. All inmates there undergo daily symptom screening, Smith said.

    Ohio has about 140 death row inmates, most housed at the Chillicothe prison. No executions are scheduled for this year as the state struggles to find drugs for its lethal injection process.

    Ohio's prison system is one of the hardest-hit in the country, with more than 5,200 inmates testing positive as of Thursday. In addition, 88 inmates have died from confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus.

    Virtually all prisons have cases, but the majority have been at Marion Correctional Institution in north-central Ohio and Pickaway Correctional Institution in central Ohio, which has a medical wing.

    Nearly 1,000 prison system staff members have also tested positive, including the agency director, Annette Chambers-Smith, who announced her diagnosis last week. She is quarantining at home. Five staff members have died.

    In Arizona, at least eight death row prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19, including Alfonso Salazar, who died in April from complications of COVID-19, said attorney Dale Baich, who leads death penalty appeals in the Federal Public Defenders Office in Arizona. Baich confirmed the cases in his role as a lawyer representing the inmates.

    The Arizona prisons department declined comment, citing the confidentiality of inmate medical records.

    In California, following an outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, at least nine death row inmates have died following positive COVID-19 tests, with a tenth death suspected, according to state Department of Correction and Marin County Coroner's Office records.

    In Texas, death row inmates have sued over the states coronavirus prison measures. Earlier this month in Tennessee, a death row inmate received a rare temporary reprieve from Gov. Bill Lee after the Republican announced the execution would not take place this year because of the challenges and disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  6. #6
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Catastrophe: How Californias worst coronavirus outbreak burst from San Quentin into their home in San Jose

    Veteran prison guard who brought home deadly virus, infecting his family, now in fight for his life

    By Julia Prodis Sulek
    The Mercury News

    After every grueling workday, often double shifts guarding prisoners at San Quentin, 55-year-old Sgt. Gilbert Polanco would drive the hour-and-a-half home to San Jose, strip off his khaki uniform in the foyer and head straight to the shower.He was desperately trying not to bring the killer coronavirus home from Californias Death Row.

    His wife, Patricia, so worried these days that she could barely sleep, tossed his clothes into the quick wash cycle each night, no matter the hour on hot with a splash of vinegar.

    He would say, Im scared. Its growing, she said of the virus that was spreading through the notorious 168-year-old prison. Were doing everything to keep it contained, but its impossible."

    Then on the last Friday night in June, Gilbert came home sick. Within days, he had infected both Patricia and their 22-year-old daughter, Selena, extending the reach of a tragedy that had started a month earlier with a colossal mistake by prison officials: an inmate transfer that would unleash the deadly virus on a destructive path through at least five California prisons that spanned the state, exploding in San Quentin into what may be the largest outbreak anywhere in the U.S.

    "Theres no end to the downstream impacts of what, quite frankly, was the worst prison screw-up in state history, said state Assemblyman Marc Levine who represents the Marin County area that includes San Quentin.In the days after the arrival of the five-bus caravan from a state prison in the Southern California city of Chino, not only did the virus sweep through San Quentins 1930s-era Badger unit to its notorious Death Row, it eventually escaped the prison walls with veteran guards like Gilbert Polanco and found its way into a green-trimmed house in San Jose, now marked with a hand-drawn warning taped to the front door: Please No Visitors.

    In less than two months, 19 inmates have died, including at least eight on Death Row, more than half the number of condemned killers executed here in four decades. The official number of prisoners infected has reached 2,172 about two-thirds of the prison population but many refused to be tested.

    And alongside the prisoners plagued by a pandemic in a poorly ventilated germ-ridden lockup are the 258 prison guards and other staff who got sick too and ultimately brought it home.

    "To me, its a catastrophe, said Patricia Polanco, who along with her daughter has recovered from COVID-19 but is on edge every time the phone rings.More than a month after coming home sick, Gilbert Polanco is so ill that doctors at Kaiser San Jose hospital have twice called to say he might not make it through the night. He is breathing on a ventilator and lying prone to relieve the pressure on his lungs. His kidneys are failing and he went through his seventh round of dialysis on Thursday.

    Why would they let this happen? Patricia said, choking back tears. If they were doing their job, they would have known this would be dangerous."

    Loved by San Quentin family

    The ivory fortress perched on the northern edge of San Francisco Bay is a place of lore and legend that has housed some of the most violent killers through the decades, from Charles Manson to Scott Peterson, who remains on Death Row for murdering his pregnant wife and unborn son.

    Sgt. Polanco was just 21 when he started working at San Quentin. And for a decade, he and his family would literally call it home. In 1993, the couple moved to San Quentin Village, a neighborhood inside the prisons main gate, when their son, Vincent, was two months old. Selena was born four years later. When Vincent learned to ride his bike on the neighborhoods Main Street, the children of the other guards held a parade to celebrate. Patricia followed in her car honking all the way.

    My hearts there, said Vincent, now 26, an Army private first class who came home from South Korea when he learned his father was near death. You felt loved by the San Quentin family.

    The Polancos keep a favorite photograph of Vincent when he was 3, a shaggy-haired boy looking out across the hillside to San Quentins Tower 1, waiting for his father to come home.

    After more than three decades, Gilbert Polanco had plans to retire next year, continue volunteering as a football coach at San Joses Lincoln High School, where his two children graduated, and take the family on a deep sea fishing trip to Alaska.

    You would think that this place would show him the same love and respect hes shown for them, Vincent said. You have to look at the leadership and say, What are you doing?

    Brutal errors

    The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation still doesnt have a good answer.

    Someone in CDCR believed that the oldest prison in our state, antiquated, could be an appropriate place to transfer prisoners during a pandemic, said Levine, a Democrat. These were brutal errors.

    He blames J. Clark Kelso, the federal-court appointed receiver who oversees medical care in the state prisons, who approved the transfer but later acknowledged necessary precautions were not in place.

    On May 30, five silver buses left the California Institution for Men in Chino east of Los Angeles. They were supposed to be life rafts of sorts, sending 121 aging, infirm prisoners away from a coronavirus outbreak, which had infected 600 and killed nine, to a safe haven prison that was coronavirus free. Over the previous two days, buses from Chino had already unloaded 66 prisoners at Corcoran state prison in the Central Valley.

    Each Chino prisoner had tested negative for COVID-19 before they were cleared to make the transfers north. There was only one problem: some of them hadnt been tested in three weeks.

    When the shackled prisoners arrived at San Quentin after an eight-hour bus ride that Saturday afternoon, a crew of guards quickly spotted trouble.

    They showed up and San Quentin exploded, said Sgt. Eddie Mann, a veteran correctional officer and friend of Polancos who also caught the COVID-19 virus and brought it home to his wife. The virus would have showed up sooner or later but not like this. Its like they just opened the door and said, Hey, see if you guys can survive.'

    Virus rains down

    As they disembarked the bus in their standard-issue red paper suits, some using walkers, several prisoners from a couple of buses complained of coughs and fevers.

    The sick Chino inmates were immediately quarantined in San Quentins Adjustment Center one of the few units with solid doors that houses some of the most violent prisoners on Death Row.

    Within days, however, 25 inmates from the Chino transfer would test positive. By then, the rest of the transferred inmates, many of whom had been breathing in the silent plague all the way up Interstate 5, were confined in the fifth tier of San Quentins Badger unit. Cells up there are like the ones in old movies, with open bars that face catwalks. Once those inmates started coughing, the virus rained down on the crowded floors below.

    It was a fiasco, to be nice about it, said Mann, who was hospitalized with COVID before returning with oxygen tanks to his Vacaville home.

    Realizing the disaster they had wrought, state prison leaders on June 4 stopped all transfers from Chino. But four days later, four prisoners from San Quentin who had tested negative within the prior week were boarding a bus to a state prison in Susanville. Within two weeks, three of them tested positive and the virus quickly spread to more than 200 inmates at the California Correctional Center in Lassen County, then across town to the High
    Desert state prison when a Susanville inmate was moved there.

    By then, the virus was quickly spiraling out of control at San Quentin. On June 19, 500 inmates were sick. Days later, that number had doubled and sick inmates were moved back to Badger, guards say.

    They sent them to us, thinking they were going to be clean then bam, Mann said. Youre thinking in the back of your mind, whos running the game here?"

    'My gosh, Im going to get this'

    In at least one case, an inmate who tested positive for the virus was housed in the same small cell as one who hadnt, according to that inmates wife.

    He was really distraught over it, said Shannon Leyba, wife of inmate Larry Leyba. The cells are tiny, originally built as a one-man cell. He said they kept coming back and checking his cellmates temperature all the time and my husband was sitting there saying My gosh, Im going to get this.

    Sure enough, he did. When Leyba ultimately tested positive, she said, he was transferred to a makeshift sick ward in the prisons old furniture factory. His symptoms, she said, have been mild.

    Her 51-year-old husband has been incarcerated at a number of prisons through the years hes in San Quentin for making threats at a bar but told her hes never experienced worse conditions.

    He would say you can just hear people in pain and screaming, she said. Every 10 minutes its man down and he was really waiting for it to be him next.

    For two months, the prison has echoed with alerts that blare for minutes at a time as guards rush to inmates in crisis. So many ambulances were summoned in a single day that the prison nearly ran out of chase vehicles that follow ambulances to guard the inmates at the hospital, guards say.

    San Rafael residents, including Assemblyman Levine, who lived between the prison and Marin General Hospital, were awakened by the sirens.

    It was constant during the first couple of weeks, he said. They would hear that day and night."

    Extra shifts, 16-hour days

    From early on, guards handling stricken inmates were suited up with gloves, masks and blue gowns over their uniforms.

    But there were so few N-95 masks in the early weeks that prisoners made cloth masks, white ones for guards and grey ones for themselves.

    And the virus continued to spread. At one point, when most of the kitchen staff fell ill, the kitchen was closed and catered meals brought in.

    As more and more guards called in sick, Sgt. Polanco picked up extra shifts to help out, sometimes working 80 hours in a single week, his wife said. He spent some of his last days on the job guarding sick inmates at the hospital.

    Even after 16-hour days, Polanco would drive all the way home each night, across the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and down Interstate 880, to his hometown of San Jose.

    Not only would Patricia worry he might fall asleep at the wheel, but with his high blood pressure and diabetes, he was especially vulnerable to the virus.

    Exhausted, he would often unload his frustrations about the decisions that led to the outbreak and little effort to stop it. He also groused about celebrities who often traipsed through before the pandemic, including Kim
    Kardashian who visited Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper last year and tweeted out a photo.

    Selena remembers her father saying: Wheres everyone famous now who wanted a tour to help the prisoners?

    On Sunday, prison advocates are planning their fourth demonstration outside the San Quentin gates to denounce the handling of what they call the new death penalty of coronavirus. On July 27, after the last two inmate coronavirus deaths, protesters chained themselves to the fence outside Newsoms house near Sacramento.

    In one of his many coronavirus news conferences, Newsom acknowledged the tragic failures at San Quentin as infections soared in early July and the state prison systems top medical officer was removed.

    It has been incredibly frustrating, Newsom said of the bungled inmate transfer. That decision created the chain of events that we are now addressing and dealing with. Im not here to sugarcoat that, Im not here to scapegoat that.

    All of us are now accountable to address this issue and doing so in a forthright manner."

    Cough starts on Fathers Day

    In their scramble to contain the outbreak, state officials built a tent city at San Quentin for sick inmates and increased testing however, only 30% have been tested in the last two weeks.

    Hundreds of inmates have been released early on parole to ease chronic overcrowding and attempt social distancing, sparking concerns the virus may be traveling into the community with them. For now, the worst of the crisis appears over; infections are down from 1,637 in early July to 229 on Friday.

    None of those measures, however, protected Sgt. Polanco, who is the sickest of the San Quentin guards. He started coughing on June 21, Fathers Day. He blamed allergies.

    His wife still feels guilty that she didnt insist he see a doctor right away. I should have dragged him, she said.

    By the end of the week, he was too exhausted to go to work, so Patricia called the doctor. Five days later, he was admitted to Kaiser, where hes been ever since.

    The family said they cant help but feel betrayed by the prison system that seemed to show such little regard for the guards as well as the prisoners. I want accountability, Selena said.

    We all do, Patricia said.

    As mother and daughter endured their own battles with the virus Selena had never felt sicker they were inundated with calls and messages and food deliveries from their San Quentin family. Even a few inmates asked guards to pass along well wishes.

    The family isnt used to being on the receiving end of so much help. Polanco was usually the giver, whether gathering supplies for victims of the Santa Rosa wildfires or organizing fishing derbies for his fellow officers.

    Hes our rock, his son, Vincent, said, and now we have to be the rock for him.

    Over the last week, doctors have been preparing the family for the worst. Patricia cant sleep.

    Im angry. Im frustrated. Im so exhausted, she said. But my focus now is on my husband. I hope to God he comes home to us."

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  7. #7
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    24th San Quentin inmate dies of COVID-19 as mystery shrouds most IDs

    SAN QUENTIN, Calif. - The 24th incarcerated person at San Quentin has died of coronavirus, the California Department of Corrections said on Friday, marking the 52nd such prisoner death in California since the virus outbreak began.

    The person died Thursday and no additional information will be given out "to protect individual medical privacy," the agency said.

    However, the Department of Corrections has been releasing the names, pictures and brief criminal histories of incarcerated people who are on Death Row, whom they refer to as "condemned."

    When asked why that is, prison spokeswoman Dana Simas said in an email: "CDCR has, for decades, issued a press release in the event a condemned inmate dies within our custody, regardless of COVID. You can see the list of condemned inmates who have died within our custody here. We wont be providing any further information on those not identified as condemned. Thank you."

    But death reports in California are public and KTVU is trying to learn the names of all the prisoners who have died of coronavirus through government channels as well as by reaching out to family members and friends.

    But the task is difficult.

    In Marin County, just four of the 23 San Quentin coronavirus cases were overseen at the coroner's office there, according to Sheriff Chief Deputy Roger Fielding. It's unclear where the most current death will be investigated.

    The rest of the incarcerated San Quentin people died at hospitals in other counties, so the coroners in Alameda County, San Mate and San Francisco counties are reviewing their deaths. KTVU has not yet been able to track down any of these death reports.

    More than 20 prisoners who were held at the Correctional Institution for Men in Chino have also died of COVID-19. KTVU reached out to the San Bernardino County coroner's office, but a spokeswoman for the sheriff there said the identities are not made public unless the requester knows the name first.

    This week, KTVU filed a Public Records Request with CDCR to make public the names, ages, and cities of residence of all the California prisoners who have died of coronavirus. But that request has not yet been completed.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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