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Protestors demand better conditions for inmates at Tehachapi prison in midst of COVID-19

Posted at 6:52 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 22:02:22-04

TEHACHAPI, Calif. — In the midst of COVID-19, protestors stood outside the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi on Thursday, demanding better health conditions for their family members inside the prison.

“I don’t think it’s good because he’s been in there for actually awhile and I want him to come home so he can learn new things and see new stuff and be safe," said nine-year-old Mia as she protested with her family. Mia's step-father is an inmate at the CCI.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's website, the prison has seen a total of 366 cases with 268 still active.

The CCI's Public Information Officer Nadia Erwin says the prison does understand the protestors’ concerns, and staff members are trying their best.

“Staff are working much harder these days than imaginable because we are encouraging, and social distancing, encouraging sanitizing areas. We are consistently trying to provide extra material to try to minimize the spread of the virus," said Erwin.

On July 10, the CDCR announced the decision to release around 8,000 eligible inmates by the end of August. In a previous interview with 23ABC, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer rebuked Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision, saying she is concerned for public safety.

“These people that he is releasing have very long, violent records, or they wouldn't be in prison to begin with. [It] gives violent felons an opportunity to reoffend, which they continue to do," said Zimmer.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel says a little more than 200 inmates will be dropped off in Kern County. He can not confirm exactly when, but says their arrival is expected in the coming weeks. Kinzel says these inmates will be coming from prisons all across the state, and they are going to be monitored by the probation or parole department.

An inmate’s eligibility to be released is based on various criteria including how many days left they have to serve and what crime they are serving time for. More information on the criteria can be found here.