This week, CCATDP sent a letter to California Governor, Gavin Newsom, imploring him to take action as COVID-19 ravages San Quentin State Prison and other facilities. You can read the full letter below.
June 30, 2020
Dear Governor Newsom:
With the rapid spread of COVID-19 inside San Quentin State Prison and across the state, we call for immediate action to save lives.
The COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin was foreseeable and completely preventable. As Judge Tigar acknowledged on June 19, 2020, during a case management conference in Newsom v. Plata, the transfers from the California Institution for Men to San Quentin were a “failure in policy and planning.” Judge Tigar urged CDCR to act quickly to release people to house arrest, furlough, or to another newly created facility, not to include a currently operating prison. Since those comments on June 19, COVID-19 has spread even more rapidly inside San Quentin. As you acknowledged in your public statements on June 25, 2020, the people at San Quentin are some of the most vulnerable in the State. Many people inside are elderly, have pre-existing medical conditions, and cannot observe the same precautions people on the outside observe daily to stay safe to the best of their abilities.
We believe there are at least 27 people inside San Quentin State Prison who have already been granted parole and are still in the 120-150 day review period during which your Office can make referrals back to the Board sitting en banc or reverse grants. Commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings have deemed these 27 people safe for release after decades of rehabilitation; these are people who have solid parole plans, and who have immediate housing to return to in the community to shelter in place safely during this pandemic.
The names of individuals at San Quentin who we know to have been found suitable have already been provided in previous letters to you on this matter.
We ask that you immediately review all of the 27 people with parole grants for expedited release, suspend transfers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in order to save their lives and to reduce the overcrowding inside of San Quentin. Every hour the numbers of positive cases inside rise, we urge you to immediately release all 27 people who have already passed countless levels and layers of oversight and review. Many of these individuals have served decades in prison; to become sick or die awaiting release after they served their time and demonstrated their suitability to rejoin their families and communities would be a cruelty.
This is just one facility in need of immediate action. We urge you to release people who have been granted parole in every prison in this state – not just at San Quentin where the media is currently focusing their attention. Thousands of people are being needlessly exposed daily to the deadly risks inherent to California’s overcrowded prisons and the inability to safely distance inside. Yet hundreds of people who are already cleared for release by the Board of Parole
Hearings remain inside – only exacerbating these conditions, and delaying well-earned freedom.
Unnecessary delays in releasing people granted parole has been a looming injustice for years and have been made particularly heartbreaking by this current pandemic. There are many people inside who are simply hoping they will make it to their first day back on the outside to see their family before family members contract or suffer harm from COVID-19. We know a handful of folks where this was unfortunately not possible in time.
This is unacceptable and must change. We have seen overcrowded prison after overcrowded prison become the center of a COVID-19 outbreak, and keeping people deemed suitable for parole needlessly inside only contributes to the dangerousness of these conditions. Every day that justice is delayed, thousands of people who are our community, friends, clients, and family members are put at risk of potential death.
We urge you to act swiftly to save lives. Do not allow COVID to reverse your moratorium on the Death Penalty in California.
Senior National Manager
Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty