WATCH: Inmates Are Infecting Themselves With Coronavirus to Get Early Release

Since realizing COVID-19 was underway, headed into our lives, facilities, jails, and daily operations, Sheriff Alex Villanueva directed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees to take precautionary measures for everyone’s protection.

Custody is a particularly unique environment in which to take these kinds of measures. Nevertheless, with a lot of consideration, new protocols, and collaboration with medical staff, we got it done. On Monday, May 11, 2020, during one of his virtual weekly press conferences conducted at the Sherman Block Building in Monterey Park, Sheriff Alex Villanueva outlined measures used to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our jail system.

Unfortunately, through video surveillance, it was determined a group of inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center-North County Correctional Facility deliberately attempted to infect themselves with COVID-19. Multiple men were seen sipping from a single bottle of hot water for two reasons: To falsely elevate their oral temperature moments before having their temperature taken by a nurse, and to spread the potential of infection. The bottle and a secondary cup of hot water were passed among the men inside of a day room, which is a common area next to a housing area with beds, akin to the living room of a house or apartment. There was plenty of space in which to observe physical distancing, however, the men chose to interact close to each other, making their intentions obvious.

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