Governor Pritzker Call Governor Newsom

California will release up to 8,000 people from state prisons to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Officials on Friday announced three separate efforts, approved by the governor, Gavin Newsom, that they say will decrease the prison population by 8,ooo by the end of August.

The measures mark the largest release efforts the state administration has taken since Covid-19 began to circulate among prison staff and incarcerated people.

“We are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis that was created and wholly avoidable,” said the California assembly member Rob Bonta at a press conference in front of San Quentin state prison.

“We need to act with urgency fueled by compassion,” he added. “We missed the opportunity to prevent, so now we have to make things right.”

CLICK

TENSIONS MOUNT IN LOCK-UPS

In the grainy cell phone video, the prison block is dim and the shouting muffled—but the sight of wafting, gray smoke is unmistakable.

“It’s a nonviolent protest going on right now because the officers, in the middle of the coronavirus, have refused us electricity for several hours, no showers or anything,” a man says in the recording, apparently made last week.

The smoke, he explains, is from fires set by Texas prisoners desperately hoping to attract attention from higher-ups because they couldn’t turn on their cell fans or clean themselves during the pandemic.

The Marshall Project is not publishing the video or naming the prison out of concern for the man’s safety.

Afterward, a prison spokesman said he had no record of the incident or its resolution. But some worry this sort of unrest could escalate in lock-ups across the country, especially as restrictions tighten. The federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, announced Tuesday a 14-day lockdown at all its facilities to slow down the virus.

Prisoners and guards nationwide are fretting, and some say fears will skyrocket as more people inside begin testing positive.

CLICK

COVID-19: Public Health Disaster

The top doctor at Rikers Island said the coronavirus-hit New York jail is a “public health disaster unfolding before our eyes” as he warned of the rapidly rising number of infections in the city’s jails.

In just 12 days, Ross MacDonald, the jail’s chief physician, said confirmed cases at Rikers had soared from one to nearly 200.

Speaking in response to a letter from five New York district attorneys and a special narcotics prosecutor criticizing the release of “high-risk” inmates following the outbreak of COVID-19, he wrote on Twitter this week…

“The only part of the letter I can speak directly to is their failure to appreciate the public health disaster unfolding before our eyes.”

CLICK