(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) released the following statement made during today’s Senate Public Safety Committee’s informational hearing on the COVID-19 crisis at California state prisons including San Quentin State Prison located in Levine’s Marin County district.
“COVID-19 is a dangerously powerful force of nature, but human behavior can control its spread. Advocates for Californians who are incarcerated raised the need to prepare and defend those in custody from the virus early in the pandemic. I heard their concerns and those of Marin County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Matt Willis, about the alarming potential of an outbreak of COVID in our prisons.
So I acted. I wrote letters and spoke with the leadership of CDCR. I spoke to this issue during the Assembly’s Committee of the Whole budget discussion with the governor’s Director of Finance. I spoke with members of the governor’s cabinet. I spoke to the governor.
I called upon the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to create site specific COVID plans for each of its facilities. I called for an expert in epidemiology or public health to be in a position of decision making authority at CDCR after the disastrous transfer of inmates to San Quentin that was nothing more than the worst prison health screw up in state history. We did not meet this moment.
I called for a plan for hospitalization so that local hospitals would not be crippled by both community spread as we are seeing in Imperial Valley and a surge of infections at prisons like at San Quentin that has now claimed over 1200 victims in less than a month. I called for an incident command to be set up.
I asked for a plan. What we received was an unacceptable, unmitigated disaster delivered by a lack of planning and preparation. We can’t sweep it under the rug. There must be accountability.
Whatever is said today won’t make up for lost time. It won’t ease the pain of the afflicted staff and prisoners. We can’t go backward. We will be presented a plan today. Never has “too little too late” been more true or cruel. Never has “better late than never” been so morally repugnant.”
A video of Assemblymember Levine’s comments can be seen here: https://youtu.be/_x9eax0JWjM
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