Habeas Ruling Toolkit

#ReleasesNow #StopSanQuentinOutbreak

Habeas Ruling: 8th Amendment Violation Found

What Did The Ruling Say?

On November 16th 2021, Judge Howard of Marin Superior Court found that CDCR violated the Eighth Amendment rights of incarcerated community members at San Quentin State Prison by subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak (summer 2020). 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. In doing so, this ruling frees CDCR of any accountability for their horrendous actions and cruel treatment of incarcerated people during the COVID outbreak. Read the SF Public Defender’s Press Release to learn more.

We Need #ReleasesNow

The threat of the delta variant at San Quentin State Prison and across California state prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers remains imminent. Vaccines are not enough to solve the public health threat of a global pandemic inside overcrowded prisons. We need urgent releases to save lives today!

Currently, there is a COVID-19 outbreak at Central CA Women’s Facility (CCWF), which recently peaked at 123 active cases on November 10th despite the fact that 81% of the incarcerated population is fully vaccinated. Notably, only 65% of staff are vaccinated at CCWF. Other prisons like Calipatria, Solano, Kern Valley, and SATF all have over a dozen active COVID cases each. These haunting numbers reflect the continued threat of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases across the state, as overcrowding across California state prisons has now reached pre-pandemic numbers at over 114% capacity statewide.  

Meanwhile, Governor Newsom has sided with the CCPOA by joining them in an appeal attempting to stop the court mandate to vaccinate all CDCR staff. Governor Newsom must grant urgent releases now and hold CDCR accountable for subjecting incarcerated people to cruel and unusual punishment throughout the COVID outbreak. 

 

Habeas Survey Results: Insight From the Inside

Following the Habeas evidentiary hearing, #StopSanQuentinOutbreak Coalition launched a mail-in survey designed to gather thoughts and direction from people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison to continue our demands for decarceration. Insights from this survey help us understand the current conditions of confinement at San Quentin State Prison one year since the height of the COVID-19 outbreak at that prison which took the lives of 28 incarcerated people and 1 staff member.

What’s clear from the surveys? Conditions inside San Quentin State Prison (like prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers across California) remain dire. The threat of another COVID-19, delta variant, and  or other outbreak remains, despite the availability of vaccines.

Share the Habeas Survey to your communities to demand accountability from CDCR and support releases now!

Habeas Survey Public Report by SSQO Coalition

Actions To Take Today

Make These General Tweets

  1. Marin Court just ruled that San Quentin violated the 8th Amendment rights of incarcerated people during COVID. But didn’t call for releases! Vaccines are not enough, we need #ReleasesNow. (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

  2. This week, 100 people at CCWF women’s prison tested positive for COVID. Despite over 80% of incarcerated community being vaccinated. Vaccinations aren’t enough, we need #ReleasesNow. (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

  3. Judge Howard’s ruling: “CDCR caused the worst epidemiological disaster in CA correctional history.” Incarcerated people are still living in those disastrous conditions. We need #ReleasesNow (bit.ly/SQHabeas)
  4. The Marin Court’s finding of an 8th Amendment violation at San Quentin prison, absent of any calls for release means CDCR will once again be unaccountable to the cruel & unusual punishment they subject incarcerated people to. We need #ReleasesNow (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

5. We’ve already seen what CDCR will do without intervention: irresponsibly transfer folks between prisons without reducing the dangers of overcrowding. We can’t wait for the next disaster to happen. We need #ReleasesNow #ReleasesNotTransfers (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

6. CDCR violated the Eighth Amendment rights of incarcerated community members, but Judge Howard enforces no remedies to rectify the physical and mental trauma of those inside. Prioritize incarcerated lives. Fight for #ReleasesNow (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

 Tweets From Incarcerated Community Members Inside

  1. “I need fresh air, sunlight, and more personal space. Diagrams of cellies sleeping on opposite ends of bunk beds is not a solution. Keeping us locked up all day is not a solution. We need space, sun, and air.” – person incarcerated at San Quentin. We need #ReleasesNow. (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

  2. “For my health, wellbeing, and safety, I need to be released. That way I know I can receive the proper care if the need would arise.” – person incarcerated at San Quentin. We need #ReleasesNow. (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

  3.  “What I need for my health, wellbeing and safety is my freedom.”  – person incarcerated at San Quentin. We need #ReleasesNow. (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

4. “Outside of my freedom, to improve the conditions you’d have to close this prison. Its just too old for the amount of [people] CDCR wants to house here. It’s a death trap.” – person incarcerated at San Quentin. We need #ReleasesNow. (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

6. “This prison is almost 180 years old, the whole area is full of lead and asbestos, there’s constant maintenance issues. Freedom after 27 years would certainly help my health and safety and wellbeing tremendously.” – person incarcerated at San Quentin. We need #ReleasesNow. (bit.ly/SQHabeas)

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Contact Your Local Reps Today

Using this site http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/, and ask them to support efforts for urgent releases and large-scale decarceration today:

  1.  Email legislators using the form on their website.
  2. Use our email template below

Hi _____,

My name is ______ and I am a constituent in your district. I want to express my strong support for urgent releases and decarceration to promote the safety and well being of incarcerated people across California state prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers. Wide-spread access to vaccinations in our state’s prisons is essential, but not enough to stop the threat of a global pandemic during the context of overcrowded prisons. As of today, 51,447 incarcerated people in CA have tested positive for COVID-19 and 242 have lost their lives due to the virus. 

In fact, there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak at Central CA Women’s Facility (CCWF) with 123 active cases as of November 10th despite the fact that 81% of the incarcerated population is fully vaccinated. Notably, only 65% of staff are vaccinated at CCWF. Other prisons like Calipatria, Solano, Kern Valley, and SATF all have over a dozen active COVID cases each. These haunting numbers mirror the continued threat of an outbreak of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases across the state, as CDCR population has now reaches pre-pandemic numbers at over 114% capacity statewide.

Recently, Marin County Superior Court found that San Quentin State Prison and CDCR violated the 8th Amendment rights of incarcerated people at SQ by subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment. But 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. In doing so, this ruling frees CDCR of any accountability for their horrendous actions and cruel treatment of incarcerated people during the COVID outbreak. 

The threat of the delta variant at San Quentin State Prison and across California state prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers remains imminent. Vaccines are not enough to solve the public health threat of a global pandemic inside overcrowded prisons. We need urgent releases to save lives today! 

Thank you, 

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