The #StopSanQuentinOutbreak coalition came together in June 2020 after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation transferred over 100 individuals from a known COVID-19 hotspot to San Quentin State Prison, causing what soon became the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the nation to date. We continue to demand large-scale releases across all California state prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers. Decarceration remains the only public health solution to this global pandemic inside and beyond prison walls.
As of January 25th 2022, there are 5,374 incarcerated people in California with active COVID cases and 4,764 staff. 246 incarcerated people and 50 staff have lost their lives due to the virus. Beyond the numbers, our community behind bars (including those in jails and ICE detention centers) continue to endure mental health crises, grief and trauma after nearly two years of incarceration during a global pandemic.
We are witnessing the direct impact of overcrowded prisons (CDCR is currently 111.6% above capacity) and Governor Gavin Newsom’s opposition to the court ordered vaccine mandate for all prison staff. We need to prioritize the health and safety of our incarcerated community members. We need #ReleasesNow.
We Need A Vaccine Mandate Now
Habeas Ruling Toolkit
Judge Howard named the COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin as the “worst epidemiological disaster in California correctional history.” CDCR showed deliberate indifference to the risks of COVID-19 by ignoring medical professionals and CDC guidance, failing to provide adequate testing and living conditions, and refusing to reduce the prison population through releases that would have saved lives.
Disappointingly, Judge Howard failed to call for releases of incarcerated community members, claiming that the availability of vaccines to incarcerated people and staff at San Quentin deems all remedies moot.
WE NEED RELEASES NOW
Data Timeline of COVID-19 Outbreaks in 2021
Graphic Timeline of San Quentin Outbreak
During this one-year anniversary of the prison transfer that led to the horrendous COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, artist Orlando Smith (currently incarcerated at SQ) illustrated this timeline tracking the outbreak at San Quentin and statewide organizing in response calling for urgent releases.
Orlando Smith is an illustrated journalist, whose work has been published in the Appeal, the Davis Vanguard, the Columbia Journalism Review, the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.