Congresswoman criticizes conditions at San Pedro prison, where hundreds of inmates have tested positive for COVID-19

Seven inmates have died from COVID-19 and nearly 700 inmates and personnel have tested positive for the virus. The prison houses just under 1,100 prisoners.
SAN PEDRO, Calif. (KABC) -- Congresswoman Nanette Barragan was not shy to voice her criticisms after she toured the Terminal Island prison in San Pedro, which has reported a large number of coronavirus cases and deaths among inmates.

Seven inmates have died from COVID-19 and nearly 700 inmates and personnel have tested positive for the virus. The prison houses just under 1,100 prisoners.

After spending less than two hours inside the facility on Tuesday, Barragan was critical of the conditions and singled out a unit with 68 inmates where she says physical distancing was not being practiced.

The congresswoman believes the Federal Bureau of Prisons needs to step in to alleviate the problem and has so far failed to protect the inmates.

"These are human beings. You may have made a mistake, you may have committed a crime but it doesn't mean you should get a death sentence. And it doesn't mean that we don't care about you," she said.

Due to the fact that some of the prison's inmates have low-security status, Barragan has advocated for moving some qualified prisoners to home confinement until the pandemic is over. At an L.A. County jail in Castaic, officials said inmates were intentionally trying to infect themselves with the coronavirus as a way to be released.

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Two groups of inmates at a Los Angeles County jail tried to infect themselves with the coronavirus by sharing water and a mask, and within two weeks 30 prisoners tested positive, authorities said Monday.



John Kostelnik, western regional vice president of the Council of Prison Locals, the union that represents prison employees said that would not apply to inmates with a violent history or convicted sex offenders.

Congressman Barragan did like one thing she noticed during her tour of the prison: the staff there has the personal protective equipment that they need.
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