Seeking release, California inmates try to infect selves with Covid-19

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks during a ceremony in Monterey Park Calif. Villanueva says inmates at a jail tried to infect themselves with the coronavirus by sharing a cup of water and a mask

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks during a ceremony in Monterey Park Calif. Villanueva says inmates at a jail tried to infect themselves with the coronavirus by sharing a cup of water and a mask

"As a direct result of the behavior seen in the video, 21 men tested positive for COVID-19 within a week", he said in a statement.

It's hard to believe anyone would want to get infected with the COVID-19 virus but that is exactly what Sheriff Villanueva claims is happening at the North County Detention Facility, or Pitchess Center, in Castaic. Sheriff investigators say they are doing all they can to keep staff and inmates safe, but organizations like Justice LA, a coalition of groups working for prisoners' rights say he is only demonizing those who have been incarcerated, to hide conditions in the county system.

He added, "It's dismaying and disheartening".

Nationwide, there have been outbreaks in state and federal prisons.

None of the inmates admitted to trying to infect themselves or raise their temperature, Villanueva said. Thousands of state and federal correctional officers and incarcerated people have tested positive for coronavirus, according to McClatchy News.

Two of the 30 inmates, one from each unit, were later released from the jail as part of the department's effort to reduce the prisoner population systemwide, according to Bruce Chase, the department's assistant sheriff of custody operations.

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Chase said his deputies need to better educate the inmates about the virus and the severity of their actions. As of Monday, nearly 4,600 inmates remained quarantined as a precaution, Villanueva said, with almost 2,000 of them located at the jail where the videos were taken.

No North American facility has adopted a blanket "get out of jail with COVID-19" policy to date. Patrisse Cullors, an activist and lead plaintiff in the suit, accused the county of not providing enough soap or an easy way for inmates to dry off.

Inmates in California jails purposefully tried to infect themselves with the coronavirus because they believed they could be released, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

They also chugged hot water just before a nurse took their temperatures, the sheriff said - hoping it would look like they had a fever.

"They're going to be sharing swigs from the same bottle of water", he says.

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