Today we are hearing more rumblings about CDCR’s plans (irrespective of the Von Staich decision, they claim) to transfer elderly, infirm people between prisons.

Where are they going to transfer people to? The graph above, compiled by Chad Goerzen from CDCR data, depicts the rise in new cases just in the last few days. A third of the prison population has been infected so far; a tenth is currently infected; 97 people have died. As of today, twenty-three prisons have major outbreaks (more than 50 cases):

  • CCI (156 new cases)
  • CIW (64 new cases)
  • CMC (180 new cases)
  • LAC (795 new cases)
  • SAC (115 new cases)
  • SOL (129 new cases)
  • CAC (367 new cases)
  • CAL (154 new cases)
  • CEN (419 new cases)
  • CTF (799 new cases)
  • HDSP (722 new cases)
  • ISP (120 new cases)
  • KVSP (505 new cases)
  • MCSP (733 new cases)
  • NKSP (208 new cases)
  • PBSP (76 new cases) 
  • PVSP (1,213 new cases)
  • RJD (400 new cases)
  • SVSP (83 new cases)
  • SCC (248 new cases)
  • SATF (593 new cases)
  • VSP (368 new cases)

A change in strategy is long past due. But it looks like CDCR is taking a page out of Trump’s pandemic prevention playbook, flailing about, transferring people to and fro, hoping that this will go away and arguing in court that “there is no need to act hastily.”

What worries me about this is not just the immediate danger to people. The profound and understandable breakdown in trust between CDCR and the people in its care is going to be the Achilles’ heel of any vaccination strategy. It is essential to understand that releases and vaccinations must go hand in hand. I say this not only to CDCR officials, who might be thinking that the vaccine will obviate the need to release people, but also to activists who obstinately oppose the vaccines because they worry it will weaken the struggle for releases. Without the good will that only releases can create, not only will any vaccine intervention be ineffective, but the problems that fester in the system will increase its susceptibility to the next pandemic.

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