California objects to moving 3,000-plus inmates due to valley fever, says more study needed

It is premature to move more than 3,000 inmates out of two state prisons until more is known about an airborne fungus that is being blamed for nearly three-dozen inmate deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration said in a court filing Monday night.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the affiliated National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health agreed last week to study problems with valley fever at Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco should wait for the centers’ recommendations before enforcing an order last week by the federal official who controls prison medical care, the administration said.

J. Clark Kelso, the federal receiver, says more black, Filipino and medically risky inmates have contracted the illness, leading to his order that the state exclude them from the prisons.

That would mean moving about 40 percent of the 8,200 inmates at the two prisons just as the state faces a federal court order to reduce prison crowding statewide to improve conditions for sick and mentally ill inmates.

The state is preparing to move about 600 medically high risk inmates out of the two prisons by August, but the complexity of swapping thousands of vulnerable inmates with other inmates who are less susceptible to valley fever makes it difficult to comply with Kelso’s larger order, the state argued. It also says Kelso’s order is confusing about which inmates could stay and which would have to go.

Via The Republic



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