A detailed plan has been adopted for restoring normal operations to California prisons after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The roadmap dated April 20 was developed to ensure a smooth transition for each prison to safely resume the “new” normal programming.
An outbreak is defined by these entities as three or more COVID-19-related inmate cases within 14 days. The specific criteria from moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 involves a minimum of negative COVID cases, along with no new outbreak cases in a 14-day period.
The phases are as follows:
Outbreak Phase (Phase 1)
*Each facility can be considered separate within an Institution, pertaining to the facility’s separation of inmates and staff.
*The end of an outbreak is defined as 14 days with no new outbreak cases identified in the given facility.
*Outbreak testing must continue throughout Phase 1.
General provisions while the facility is within the Phase 1 designation are as follows:
*Dayroom access allowed within same living quarters, with showers allowed with cleaning between uses.
*Yard/provisions of meals within the same housing units is allowed.
*Sports equipment may be used only by one inmate, with the equipment cleaned after each inmate usage.
*Recreational activities (card games, board games etc.) may be used by inmates who live within the same unit/cohort.
*All students receive independent packets.
*All students shall be administered educational assessments, with social distancing.
*Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT) participants receive Program Engagement Packets from ISUDT AOD Counselors.
*Mental Health (MH) referrals and routine appointments, which may be done at cell front. The MH Nursing may provide in-cell activities and packets.
*Law Library by paging only. Recreational reading materials will be provided within each housing unit.
*Closed to in-person and family visiting, and activities involving outside groups.
*Video visiting is allowed.
*Phone calls allowed with cleaning between uses
*Congregate religious activities are not permitted.
Includes a partial reopening and the gradual easing of Phase 1 restrictions. If the facility has an outbreak, the facility must immediately return to Phase 1 restrictions. If there is time needed to investigate a potential outbreak, the facility will remain in Phase 2 pending the investigation.
Phase 2 “Increased movement and programming” provisions are as follows:
*Library and Law Library access resumes.
*Increased dayroom access to include more participants and/or hours.
*Inmate Activity Groups (Arts in Corrections and other volunteer groups) will be contacted by the Community Resource Manager (CRM), who will coordinate the return of community-based
organizations (CBOs) and volunteers in accordance with the Department’s COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
*All education courses return, including Career Technical Education (CTE), and in-person college courses, where physical distancing can be maintained.
*ISUDT Integrated/Offender Mentor Certification Program services will resume in-person/group settings, where physical distancing can be maintained.
*Indoor/Outdoor congregate religious services are permitted within the same facility with social distancing.
*On-site Mental Health, Dental, and Medium Priority Health Care services resume. Mental health service groups must maintain physical distancing.
*Inmate workforce resumes.
*No family visiting. Other in-person visiting will transition to a hybrid model in accordance with the Visiting Memorandum procedures, which specify a combination of in-person and video visiting as determined by each facility’s warden.
Phase 3 is indicated by CDCR as “New Normal Programming.” The progressive reopening of programs and services will be reviewed and implemented weekly by the institution.
With COVID precautions in place, each facility will resume:
*Normal in-person visiting
*All rehabilitative programs
*Normal process for filming, media requests, and stakeholder tours
*Normal programming for DRP, self-help programming, and ISUDT, etc.
*Congregate religious activities
The CDCR/CCHCS memorandum stated that if the facility experiences a subsequent inmate outbreak, the facility must revert back to Phase 1 restrictions.
Here are reactions from some San Quentin residents:
*T. Lang, 22, “None of this makes sense. We keep getting punished for something we have no control of. I’ve just read the latest L.S.A. and it says that it’s the guards that bring most of the virus in. So if it’s the guards, why are we (incarcerated people) being punished?”
*M. Vilkin, 70, who had previously contracted COVID and was re-housed at the time in PIA, said, “It is common knowledge that healthy people have mild symptoms. I believe that people whose immune system has been compromised should be protected by isolation, but the virus should be allowed to run wild amongst the rest. We’re killing our economy. Statistically speaking, people who would have died in a few weeks, or months anyway are counted as killed by the virus.”
*L. Rodriguez, 43, “They need to stop transporting people here from other prisons. If we are on quarantine, we need to have paper trays and not hard trays. They need to supply us with hand sanitizer and bleach.”