How COVID-19 is affecting California’s prison system after inmates, employees test positive

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Prison cells. Photo credit: Falkenpost/CC 2.0, via Pixabay

In an announcement on Monday, the Sheriff’s Department said an inmate at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility tested positive for COVID-19, and that inmate was removed from his housing facility. Plus, staff are monitoring other inmates for symptoms of coronavirus.

Across the California prison system, at least four inmates and 22 employees have tested positive. Now state officials are considering giving inmates earlier parole, releasing them, or taking fewer in the first place. LA County has released some 1,700 inmates with less than 30 days left to serve.

"The County Jail in Los Angeles has been a ticking time bomb, and now we're at the crisis moment,” says Laurie Levenson, former federal prosecutor and current professor of criminal law at Loyola Law School.

“I'm not sure that there's much to do because there is a clinic inside the jail, but that could never hold all the people that could be infected. And I don't think it's likely that they're going to take anyone out of there,” she adds.