Waiting for His Appeal, Despite COVID-19 Threat, Woodland Man’s Request for Release Denied

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By Angelina Caplanis

WOODLAND – Despite the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California jails and prisons, Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg denied Brandon Ryan Vidales bail—the judge said he had good reasons.

Rosenberg, who refused to grant Vidales’ motion to be released from custody while he appeals his felony convictions, found Vidales guilty of, in 2018, the sale, manufacture, or conversion of a firearm into a machine gun, the possession for sale of methamphetamine, and enhancements for criminal street gang activity.

Vidales’ attorney J. Toney cited the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prison system as the basis for the motion.

As Toney pointed out, as of June 10, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in CDCR facilities is 3,051 with a total of 12 deaths. A total of 2,382 people are in prison with COVID-19. Among CDCR employees, the current number of active staff cases is 252 as of June 10. 

“There is clearly a real problem of the virus taking hold in the prison system,” Toney argued, although he did not cite any specific medical issues that might make Vidales, 32, more vulnerable to contracting the virus.

In response, Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson stated that, although the numbers of confirmed cases have increased, not all of CDCR’s prisons have confirmed cases.

The majority of CDCR’s cases are coming from the same three or four prisons, Johnson said, likely referring to Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (993 confirmed cases), Avenal State Prison (844 confirmed cases), and California Institution for Men (779 confirmed cases).

The number of confirmed cases CVSP, for example, increased 28.29% since last Tuesday. In comparison, there are zero confirmed cases in CDCR facilities in Solano County, Sacramento County, Amador County, and San Joaquin County.

Meanwhile, Johnson continued, there are still no cases at Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) (presumably where Vidales is in custody).

However, the CDCR’s Employee Status webpage lists three confirmed cases among PVSP employees.

Judge Rosenberg acknowledged there is a concern for the welfare of the inmates as the virus spreads throughout CDCR facilities, but denied the motion.

The sole issue, Rosenberg stated, is whether Vidales should be released pending appeal of his felony convictions. On balance, the judge said no.

If the cases of COVID-19 continue to increase at the prisons, the governor and the CDCR have the ability to deal with the issue, Rosenberg finished.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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