February 9, 2021
A big mistake by California prison officials spread COVID-19 and resulted in dozens of deaths, both inmates and one staff member.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has unilaterally decided to eliminate California’s death penalty for capital crimes even though it remains in the law. Newsom declared a moratorium on executing any of the 700-plus occupants on San Quentin Prison’s death row, saying, “It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.”
Nevertheless, Newsom’s prison agency, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in effect, sentenced dozens of San Quentin inmates to death when it transferred prisoners infected with COVID-19 into the facility, as a new report from the prison system’s inspector general details.
The corrections department thus joins the ever-growing list of state agencies tainted by brain-dead managerial decisions, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Employment Development Department, with seriously adverse consequences — in this case, needless deaths.
In late May, as COVID-19 was raging, prison officials transferred 189 inmates with pre-existing medical conditions and deemed vulnerable to infection from the California Institution for Men in Chino to San Quentin and another prison in Corcoran, both of which were infection-free. However, as Inspector General Roy Wesley told Newsom and legislators, the transferees had not been tested to learn whether they were already infected.