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San Quentin to transfer, release 50% of inmates due to COVID

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SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (KRON) — Citing the state’s failure to stem a deadly COVID outbreak at San Quentin state prison, a state appeals court has ordered the prison to immediately transfer or release 1,700 prisoners.

According to court records, 75% of inmates at San Quentin have COVID-19.

And so far, 28 inmates have died from the virus.

The warden at San Quentin used deliberate indifference toward prisoners during an outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, that is according to a ruling by the state court of appeals.

Now the prison must release a significant amount of prisoners. A ruling by the California Court of Appeals states that San Quentin prison must release or transfer 50% of the prison population.

This comes in the wake of the prison suffering a devastating outbreak of the COVID-19 virus that killed over 2-dozen prisoners and infected approximately 75% of the inmate population including dozens of prison staff.

James King of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights calls that treatment during a pandemic inhumane.

“Any incarceration that does not allow does not allow for people to physically distance adds to a person’s punishment,” King said.

The ruling also calls for the release or transfer of inmates over the age of 60 who have served at least 25-years of their sentences.

“These are the safest people to be released. He cited various studies that show that someone that commited a violent crime when they were 17, 18, 21, 22 and is now 55, 60, 65 and has had this great record in prison, this is not a person who is dangerous to public safety,” Civil rights attorney Michael Bien said.

In fact, speaking as a former San Quentin inmate, King says many of the older prison population were overcharged to begin with and should have been released a long time ago.

“Let’s just be clear the majority of people there have served decades. They have more than served any debt owed to society,” King said. “This pandemic is serving as something as a reason to do something that should have done long ago.”

KRON4 contacted the California Attorney General’s Office for their response to this ruling, but didn’t receive a reply. However, the judge gave the attorney general 15 days to dispute this decision or it will be final.

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