Inside the COVID-19 Outbreak at Lompoc Prison

text by Anita Carraher / edited by digital-media

29 July, 2020

COVID-19 Outbreak at Lompoc Federal Prison

“He fears that he’s going to die in prison. It’s just painful – it’s painful for the families that are outside, and knowing what they’re going through is just heartbreaking on a daily basis.”

Lompoc’s Federal Prison was ground zero in COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County, quickly becoming the largest prison outbreak in the country. The prison’s response fostered outrage about the conditions inside the penitentiary, igniting community backlash and frustration among family members. In response to the troubling conditions inside the penitentiary, the ACLU of Southern California has now filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the inmates. 

KCSB’s Ashley Rusch spoke with the sister of an inmate, who wished to remain anonymous, and Reverend Jane Quandt, a support group leader, about the conditions inside the prison.

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Lompoc Federal Prison

“People’s lives and health is very seriously in jeopardy as a result of the failures of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which include not taking appropriate steps to ensure the availability of masks, cleaning supplies – but also just the fact that the facility is so crowded that it is impossible to engage in…social distancing.” 

On behalf of prisoners at Lompoc Federal Prison, the ACLU of Southern California has filed a class action lawsuit that claims their 8th amendment rights have been violated. The lawsuit asks Lompoc and Terminal Island prisons to provide compassionate release to those with serious medical conditions, who are especially at risk for COVID-19. 

KCSB’s Ashley Rusch spoke with Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, to hear the details.

Reported by Ashley Rusch for KCSB News