Assemblymember Marc Levine Statement on Ruling to Reduce San Quentin State Prison Incarceration by 50%

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO) – Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) today released the following statement in response to a California Court of Appeals ruling that the current incarcerated population at San Quentin State Prison (San Quentin), located in Levine’s district violates the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution and ordering the population to be reduced by 50%.


“I agree with the First District Court of Appeals’ (Court) ruling that San Quentin’s Warden and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) leadership have acted with ‘deliberate indifference’ when it comes to the health and safety of incarcerated people and staff at the prison. Their willful negligence resulted in over 2,200 incarcerated people contracting COVID-19 and 28 incarcerated people dying from COVID-19 at San Quentin. By any objective measure, this is has been the worst public health disaster in state prison history.”


“In April of this year, I raised warning flags that neither CDCR nor San Quentin leadership had developed a site-specific plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the prison. That warning was ignored.”


“In May, Marin County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Matt Willis raised warning flags saying, “prisons are high risk settings for large outbreaks, and if there’s a spike in cases at San Quentin we know we’ll be engaged in the response. With a clear, site specific plan we can react more quickly to protect the entire community.” Dr. Willis’ call for action was ignored.”


“In late June, Federal Receiver J. Clark Kelso acknowledged that his decision to transfer COVID-19 positive incarcerated people from Chino to San Quentin was done “too quickly,” was a “self-inflicted wound” and a “big mistake.” Again, I called on San Quentin and CDCR leadership to develop a site-specific plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at San Quentin. That demand was ignored.”


“It is no surprise that after months of CDCR failing to take necessary action to limit the spread of COVID-19 at San Quentin, that a court has determined the living conditions of incarcerated people at the prison are unconstitutional. Without a significant reduction in the prison’s population, it is not a question of if another COVID-19 spike will happen at San Quentin, it is a question of when.”


A copy of the ruling by the First District Court of Appeals (IVAN VON STAICH on Habeas Corpus) can be found here:


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