Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Lompoc Federal Prison Inmates

By Nick Schou   |   May 21, 2020

Although it houses just 1,162 people behind bars – not to mention a healthy supply of razor wire – Lompoc Federal Prison already has no less than 900 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s not only well more than 70 percent of the prison’s population, it’s also roughly half the number of people in all of Santa Barbara County who are known to have the disease. A May 17 lawsuit filed on behalf of the inmates by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues that prison officials were negligent in allowing the virus to spread so widely.

The suit, which the ACLU filed on May 17 on behalf of inmates at both Lompoc and Terminal Island Federal Prison, claims that prison officials failed to take “sanctioned actions” in halting the virus. The crisis never needed to happen, the ACLU claims. “Through a series of unconscionable delays, blunders, and failures to follow official guidelines, the situation grew unimaginably worse,” the lawsuit argues. “And still, Terminal Island and Lompoc prison officials refuse to take adequate remedial actions, including those approved by the U.S. Congress and Attorney General’s office.”

Among the lawsuit’s demands: better social distancing, free hand soap, paper towels and hand sanitizers.


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