Inmates say southern Sacramento County facility not following COVID-19 protocols, denying due process

Local News

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – Inmates inside a southern Sacramento County facility are saying not enough is being done to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

FOX40 received telephone calls from two men identifying themselves as inmates inside the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. They consented to recorded conversations.

“We’re cramped in a pod with 64 people and there’s no social distancing. This is our second time on quarantine. I caught COVID-19 due to being in here,” explained inmate Rocky Abranski. “We’re like maybe 2 feet apart in the bed areas.”

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s media office referred FOX40 to the information posted on their website. The following information is one paragraph posted on the site:

Staff protocols are based on local and federal guidance and are regularly revised as processes are changed or refined. There are four COVID-19 housing units in each jail including Intake Quarantine (new arrivals), Close Contact Quarantine (exposed but no symptoms), Suspect Isolation (symptoms but pending testing) and Confirmed Cases. Any inmate exhibiting symptoms consistent with the CDC COVID-19 symptom list are tested. Additionally all patients exposed to the symptomatic individual are also tested.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office website

The inmates who spoke with FOX40 said the correctional facility is not following protocols.

“I mean, the social distancing needs to happen,” Abranski said. “I mean, there’s no social distancing at all. They’re saying they’re practicing it but I don’t see it.”

“The bunks are 2 feet apart. When we sit down to eat dinner at chow, the seats are literally there’s a little table with four chairs on it that we all have to sit around each other. The tables are just bunched together,” said inmate Aaron Arcusa.

Both men said without a system allowing them to attend court remotely from the jail, they are being denied due process.

“They’re not allowing us to go to court on our court dates,” Arcusa explained. “My court date was today and I was not allowed to go to court. This is my second court that they pushed off.”

According to numbers on the sheriff’s office website, as of last Feb. 3, there were 52 COVID-19-positive inmates currently in custody at the Main Jail and 172 at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center.

The case numbers are updated on the site weekly and, according to the sheriff’s office, they are trending downward.

One caller, identifying herself as the mother of an inmate, described a feeling of helplessness on both sides of the correctional facility fences.

“Well, I just hope he stays healthy. I pray for him all the time and I am concerned. But there’s nothing I can do, unfortunately, except reach out, like to you,” said Kim Childs. “To me, that’s just a potential superspreader event.”

The sheriff’s office also referred FOX40 to the county’s correctional health information officer. FOX40 put in a request and is waiting to hear back for more on what’s being done to prevent the virus from spreading behind bars.

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