In July, a Los Angeles Federal Judge ordered Lompoc prison officials to release certain inmates to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but attorneys representing the inmates say it's taking too long.
As of Oct. 21, 44 out of the 129 people approved for home confinement based on the court’s order have actually been placed on home confinement, according to Naeun Rim, an attorney representing the inmates.
One hundred and twenty-one people have reportedly been sent to a Residential Reentry Center (a halfway house) and 81 had their sentences terminated early through compassionate release.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, Bureau of Prisons officials are required to tell the court which inmates are eligible for release as part of a plan to reduce the population. Eligible inmates could be anyone older than 50 and anyone with underlying health conditions.
"We continue to litigate about the delay in transferring those who have already been approved for home confinement to their homes, as some have been waiting for months," Rim said to KSBY in an email.
Lompoc Federal Bureau of Prison officials are in the middle of litigation over their response to the COVID-19 outbreak among inmates.
According to Rim, Lompoc confirmed that some people are being required to quarantine in solitary confinement for up to 28 days prior to being put on home confinement.
She said that "there are serious constitutional problems with this practice."
From April 23 to May 1, the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a remote inspection of FCC Lompoc to understand how the pandemic affected the complex and how prison officials prepared for, prevented and managed the spread of COVID-19 within the facility.
The Office of the Inspector General found:
- an insufficient number of correctional staff members delayed modified operations
- a lack of permanent leadership
- an ineffective screening process of employees and inmates
- a need for more PPE and face coverings
They said the biggest challenge in preventing the spread of the virus was a preexisting shortage of medical staff.
Nearly 1,200 inmates are housed at the Lompoc prison and nearby satellite camp.
KSBY reached out to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for a statement and did not hear back.