“They are playing a deadly game with people’s lives” – COVID-19 Stories From CDCR’s Deuel Vocational Institute

By Julietta Bisharyan

This report is written by the Covid In-Custody Project — an independent journalism project that partners with the Davis Vanguard to bring reporting on the pandemic in California’s county jails and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to the public eye. Refer to our website to view and download the raw data.

This account is part 12 of the Covid In-Custody Project’s series on COVID-19 stories from CDCR. Click here for part 11 and here for part 10. 

For months, Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) had zero cases of COVID-19 until the first case was reported in November.

According to Jenny*, whose husband is incarcerated at DVI, the outbreak started at L3, which is an honor dorm that housed 61 people. Officials placed a person in that dorm, who had tested positive from another part of the prison, as soon as he completed quarantine. 

He had not tested negative, yet officials placed him with the healthy population before removing him the next day.

As a result, the entire L3 block became infected and was placed under lockdown.

Jenny says that staff were moving the population around constantly to various wings.

Initially, E wing was intended to house those who had tested positive. However, they moved patients after quarantine from E wing to F wing, which led to an outbreak of about 100 cases.

She believes officials are intentionally mixing those with resolved cases with the general population to test if they would be able to catch the virus again.

“They are playing a deadly game with people’s lives,” Jenny says. 

According to Jenny, the prison has moved individuals, who were positive after 10 days of quarantine, into areas with negative patients. If a person has no symptoms, after 10 days, they will be put back in the general population without being tested again.

She credits this constant moving and attempts at achieving herd immunity as the cause of the outbreak at DVI, which has already confirmed 274 cases.

“This is a tragedy; something has to be done,” adds Jenny. “The world needs to know.”


* Name changed for anonymity

About The Author

The Covid In-Custody Project partners with the Davis Vanguard to report on the pandemic's impact on California's county jails and state prisons. See www.covidincustody.org for more information.

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