Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Probable H1N1 Cases at San Quentin State Prison Limit Inmate Intake and Halt Transfers

SAN QUENTIN -- Beginning Wednesday, July 8, San Quentin State Prison will limit the intake of new inmates from 19 Northern California counties due to the detection of the H1N1 virus. Since July 6, no inmates have been transferred from the prison to other correctional facilities.

Today, approximately 47 inmates at San Quentin have exhibited flu-like symptoms of the H1N1 virus and there are four probable cases. As a result, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Prison Health Care Services (CPHCS) have decided to limit San Quentin intake and stop transfers to other facilities in the state in an attempt to minimize the spread of the virus. CDCR and CPHCS have informed county and state health officials and sent samples to labs to confirm whether or not the inmates have the H1N1 virus.

San Quentin State Prison serves as a reception center to complete diagnostic, medical and classification processes to determine initial institutional placement for offenders from 19 Northern California counties. CDCR administrators are notifying those counties of the situation, and working with them on delivery of offenders. San Quentin receives approximately 250 inmates a week from county jails. They typically release onto parole approximately 200 inmates per week. Due to the halt of transfers, the number of inmates that San Quentin accepts for intake from county jails may be reduced.

Since detection of H1N1, several units housing approximately 2,100 inmates have been quarantined and San Quentin has implemented the following preventative measures to limit the spread of the illness:

  • No inmates are being transferred from San Quentin to other state correctional facilities.
  • Inmate movement has been restricted.
  • Inmates scheduled to be released to parole are being medically evaluated and will be given written instructions before they are paroled.
  • Routine programs were suspended until further notice.
  • H Unit, Alpine Unit, Badger Unit and North Block were quarantined.
  • Visiting was cancelled in the quarantined units until further notice.
  • Inmates in the quarantined units are confined to quarters and being fed in their cells.
  • Staff is taking all necessary precautions to prevent contamination or spread of the illness.
CDCR, CPHCS and San Quentin medical officials are working together and closely monitoring the situation.

San Quentin State Prison, California's oldest correctional institution, was opened July 1852 and includes a reception center, general population units, and a minimum security work crew unit. Male condemned inmates are also housed at San Quentin. The prison currently houses 5,153 inmates and employs nearly 1,700 people.