SAN QUENTIN, CALIFORNIA – – San Quentin could “very well see a second or even a third surge” in coronavirus cases if people no longer incarcerated are released soon, lawyers argued in court files on Tuesday on behalf of 300 people arrested.
“Every day of delay increases that likelihood,” wrote the team of attorneys hailing from the San Francisco, Alameda County, and Marin Counties public defense offices and the private law firm. Keker, Van Nest & Peters in San Francisco. Team of lawyers
In light of this fear, attorneys pleaded with Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Howard to hold an evidence hearing on the matter so they can argue what they consider to be the most sensible means: to release hundreds of detainees from San Quentin while meeting the needs of San Quentin to prioritize those over 60, those who have served 25 years of imprisonment, those eligible for probation, and those at high medical risk.
Lisa Strawn, 61, was released from San Quentin in July. When she was there, she was also diagnosed with COVID-19.
“I didn’t think I’d make it after 25 years,” she told KTVU. “Now I’ve been through a lot. But nothing compares to COVID-19. I still have problems with taste and smell and the psychological after-effects are still there. Not enough was done back then to protect us all. You just can . ” Don’t move people any further. ”
The attorneys’ habeas corpus petition comes after an October 21 ruling by the First District Court of Appeal ruling out the terms of “willful indifference” in San Quentin and the fatal outbreak virus there as “the worst epidemiological disaster in California correctional history “were found. “” The appeals court ruled that 1,100 detainees must either be released or swiftly transferred from San Quentin.
And the court allowed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to figure out how to reduce the population of San Quentin in half, despite not setting a date when it would be.
The CDCR did not agree with the ruling, said spokeswoman Dana Simas. And the agency hasn’t officially announced what the prison system would do about the order. The attorney general who represents CDCR has until November 16 to respond.
Lawyers for the detained men argued in court records that “mass transfers will not work,” citing the May transfer from a Chino prison to San Quentin that caused the first outbreak in San Quentin, where 28 inmates have died so far.
A new transfer of 1,100 detainees in San Quentin – the number the appeals court has identified – is likely to result in more infections and death, the lawyers argued.
“It weighs on credibility” to believe that CDCR could move so many people safely without causing further harm to people in San Quentin and other prisons, the inmates’ lawyers argued. To date, California prisons are 105% full. 13 of them are used at 120%.
The lawyers cited a deposit from Dr. Joseph Bick, the prison’s health director, who said the CDCR should restrict any unnecessary movement.
“Don’t transfer people unless you absolutely have to,” Bick testified. “First, consider all other options.”
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter at KTVU. Email Lisa at [email protected] or call her at (510) 874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez.