By Julietta Bisharyan, Nick Gardner and Alexis Hogan
Weekly highlights from CDCR’s COVID-19 crisis
CDCR Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Outcomes
As of Jun. 19, there have been a total of 49,386 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the CDCR system – 35 of them emerged in the last two weeks. 42 cases are active in custody, while 607 have been released while active.
A total of 48,510 confirmed cases have been resolved since the start of the pandemic, and 227 individuals have died.
In the past two weeks, California State Prison Solano (SOL) has tested the most individuals, 75 percent of its population. Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) has tested the least, 52 percent of its population.
There are currently 98,034 incarcerated persons in California’s prisons – a reduction of 24,375 since March 2020, when the prison outbreaks first began.
Effect on Public
Administrators, including wardens and associate wardens, of the California Institution for Men (CIM) and the California Institution for Women (CIW) hold meetings with their citizen advisory committees every other month to provide updates and relevant information about the prison facilities.
Prior to the pandemic, the public meetings were held in a conference room at Chaffey College but now the meetings are held remotely.
The citizen advisory committees comprise of community members, elected officials (or their aides), as well as members of the fire department and police departments.
On June 8, the meetings provided information on the coronavirus and vaccination statistics, mental health programs and medical services, the return of in-person visitation and religious services, stimulus checks, surveillance cameras, and a dental backlog.
There are about 2,265 incarcerated individuals at CIM, and 79 percent of them are fully vaccinated. Of the 1,841 staff at CIM, about 55 percent are fully vaccinated.
The 50-Bed Mental Health Crisis Facility is moving forward even though there was opposition from over 100 residents during a public meeting in 2019. Construction is estimated to be completed in two years.
As of May 10, the facility has entered its “new normal” programming phase with healthcare and medical services are fully operational, mental health services have been reinstituted at full capacity, normal visiting operations have resumed, and religious activities have also resumed.
Volunteers will be able to return to the facility as of July 1 if they follow social distancing and mask requirements.
The dental department was severely affected by the pandemic due to restrictions on aerosol use for the past 14 months— routine appointments were put on hold, but urgent treatments were addressed. The dental department is now seeing patients for all dental services.
There are about 1,002 incarcerated individuals at CIW, and about 72 percent are fully vaccinated. Out of the 1,340 staff at CIW, about 55 percent are fully vaccinated.
The accounting department has processed about $800,000 of stimulus checks to the incarcerated population. The Accounting Office at the facility processes the payments and applies them to the individual’s trust account.
According to a public information officer for the CDCR, Andrew Mendoza, the IRS had previously held that incarcerated people were not eligible for payments, but in Sept. of 2020, a federal court ruled that the IRS could not deny CARES Act payments to anyone solely on the basis of incarceration.
CIW plans on receiving an audio-visual surveillance system by October, and body-worn cameras for the staff will be received by July 29.
In March, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the CDCR to deploy the use of body-worn cameras for the staff by the end of July, as well as to install security cameras in five facilities, including CIW. This decision came after the judge found the occurrence of systemic abuses against incarcerated individuals with disabilities at the five prisons.
CIW had an extensive dental backlog that has been reduced from 1,200 cases to below 300 cases.
As of June 1, the facility has entered its “new normal” phase— programs have returned, volunteers are coming back, and in-person visitation has returned. Many incarcerated individuals support the virtual visitation that will continue on Saturdays because it allows them to visit with loved ones who cannot be there in-person.
As of Jun. 19, 1,934 patients have received their first round of vaccines statewide. 69,343 are fully vaccinated. 72 percent of the total prison population is either partially or fully vaccinated.
1,848 staff members have received their first round of vaccines statewide. 33,406 staff are fully vaccinated. 53 percent of the total staff population is either partially or fully vaccinated.
Currently, Correctional Training Facility (CTF) has vaccinated the most incarcerated individuals, 88 percent of its population. Wasco State Prison (WSP) has vaccinated the least, just 50 percent.
Centinela State Prison (CEN) has tested the most staff members, 63 percent of its population. High Desert State Prison (HDSP), on the other hand, has vaccinated the least of its staff population, only 25 percent.
Gov. Newsom terminated executive orders that put into the place the Stay-at-Home Order and the Blueprint for a Safer Economy effective Jun. 15, 2021, meaning State departments are no longer required to collect and report absentee data.
As a result, CDCR will no longer be collecting COVID-19 data for their employees.
The final cumulative employee COVID-19 data shows that there have been a total of 17,002 cases and 28 deaths among staff members statewide.
CDCR Comparisons – California and the US
According to the Marshall Project, California prisons rank first in the country for the highest number of confirmed cases, with Federal prisons following closely behind. Texas ranks third.
California ranks third for the highest number of deaths nationwide. Texas ranks first, with Federal prisons in second.
2 in 5 incarcerated individuals have tested positive–– 4.4 times the rate in California overall. 1 in 525 patients has died from COVID-19. 3 in 4 incarcerated individuals have been fully or partially vaccinated.
California makes up 12.3 percent of total cases among incarcerated people and 8.2 percent of the total deaths in prison in the U.S.
California also makes up 14.8 percent of total cases and 13.4 percent of total deaths among prison staff.
Division of Juvenile Justice
As of June 19, there are no active cases of COVID-19 among youth at the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities. 205 cases have been resolved since the first case was diagnosed in June 2020.
A Year Ago Today
On June 16, 2020, the CDCR announced its “community supervision program” designed to advance early release efforts.
The plan, which took effect on July 1, 2020, granted eligibility for early release to those with less than 180 days left of their sentence who were not convicted of violent crimes, domestic violence, or were registered sex offenders. Moreover, individuals seeking release under the program were required to have identified a housing plan.
At the time of the program’s announcement, the CDCR had already decreased the total population by 8,000 through a combination of intake restriction and expedited parole.
The initial press release additionally assured that “all victim notification requirements are being met.”
On June 18, 2020, the 18th department wide death was reported at California Institution for Men (CIM). At that point, CIM had reported 16 deaths.
On June 19, the Board of Parole Hearings voted to extend the use of video conferencing for parole hearings through late July.
On June 20, Avenal State Prison (ASP) reported its first death, marking the 19th CDCR-wide fatality.