A court official transferred more than 8,200 inmates from Central Valley prisons Monday after a Valley Fever outbreak hospitalized hundreds of prisoners.
The fever is caused by an airborne fungus and can rupture the lungs, affecting most minority groups and those with weakened immune systems.
Dr. John Galgiani, a professor at the University of Arizona, has called the outbreak a public health emergency chastised the state’s prevention efforts. After reviewing records of four deceased inmates, Galgani concluded that the prison’s medical staff had waited months to test for the disease.
The announcement follows reports of prisoner neglect posted on Yelp.
The correctional department also faces an issue of overpopulation in prisons. The state must remove 9,000 prisoners by the end of the year to meet a court order aimed at improved medical and mental health care within prisons.
The problem truly began after a lawsuit filed in the ‘90s sought to improve medical care in prisons, including reducing population. It resurfaced after a doctor examining the Pleasant Valley and Avenal prisons hired a lawyer and requested that the federal courts shut down the prisons.
"Prisoners are dying because they're in a toxic environment which causes serious illness and death on a regular basis,” said Don Spector, director of the Prison Law Office, “The department has known about this problem since about 2007 and has done virtually nothing."
Gov. Jerry Brown may be found in contempt of court if he is unable to meet the court order, following two decades of federally controlled prisons.