February 8, 2021
Kevin Sawyer, Filter Magazine
In May, as COVID-19 loomed over incarcerated people across the country, Ivan Von Staich filed an administrative grievance to transfer out of the notoriously overcrowded 168-year-old San Quentin State Prison. In October, as a result, an appeals court ordered San Quentin to reduce its prison population by 50 percent.
In November, in his first interview on his decision and its aftermath, Von Staich, 64, said prison officials have harassed him and threatened his life. “I don’t give a fuck about a court order,” a captain said shortly after the court ruling, according to Von Staich. Let’s call him Captain America, or Capt. A for short. “We can do what we want to you. You’re destroying our whole prison.” “You think you’re going to get money out of this,” Von Staich quoted Capt. A telling him.
“You got to live to get paid.” The Court of Appeal ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to transfer Von Staich immediately, and ordered San Quentin to reduce its prison population to a maximum of 1,775 people—down from roughly double that in June 2020. The court also found that the CDCR demonstrated “deliberate indifference to the risk of substantial harm to [Von Staich], whose age made him vulnerable to COVID-19.” “We agree that CDCR’s deliberate indifference to the risk of substantial harm to [Von Staich] necessarily extends to other similarly situated San Quentin inmates,” the court stated. “The immediate need is for a reduction of the San Quentin inmate population that will allow sufficient physical distancing among the inmates who remain.”
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February 8, 2021