News & Politics

Gee, We Can't Imagine Why LA Jail Inmates Would Intentionally Infect Themselves With COVID-19, Either

Screenshot from LA County jail camera video.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has presided over the release of 5,000 criminals from jail to prevent a potential “catastrophic” spread of COVID-19.

The sheriff, who has been roundly criticized by somebody around here for his boneheaded decisions about closing and opening and closing and opening (not a typo) gun stores due to COVID-19, has made letting crooks out of jail one of his highest priorities. He even bragged that he let out the convicted criminals before the ACLU asked him to.

If there was a medal for letting out inmates in record numbers, he’d be displaying that piece of fruit salad proudly. In fact, he’d be just the guy to require that such a medal be struck – before the ACLU demanded it of him.

The good sheriff gave his update on COVID-19 at a local cop shop, since he’s been fired from the county’s emergency operations center on Monday and noted his many accomplishments, including letting all those inmates out of jail – for their health of course,

We had over 17k inmates so we started a process deliberately depopulate the jail system decompress it so we could create defensible space, space so people could practice social distancing so … we could have a space to isolate and quarantine and that process started in February and we reduced the jail population by over 5000 inmates so right now we have about 11,000 inmates give or take.

Then Villanueva described some “deeply disturbing” behavior at one of the local jails, which he correctly characterized as “dismaying and disheartening.” What he described shocks the conscience.

Villanueva showed video of inmates at the Pitchess Correctional Center “deliberately attempting to infect themselves with the COVID 19 virus.”

He said though inmates have their own cups and bottles, they were sharing them. They also “sniffed” the same mask. Within a week of the videos, he claims, the jail, which previously had “no cases, zero” of COVID-19, had 21 inmates test positive.

Obviously, this is sick behavior, but the sheriff was surprised. Here’s what he told reporters Monday,

[A]nd I know it’s kind of hard to wrap your mind around why would somebody want to do that. It’s dismaying and disheartening and it goes to the crux of – well, there’s a reason these people like this are behind bars to begin with – because they’re violating the norms of society.

“There’s a reason these people like this are behind bars to begin with because they’re violating the norms of society”?

You don’t say?

The sheriff genuinely seemed gobsmacked that jail inmates would do something, so – what’s the word – unethical,

But then to imperil their own safety but the safety of their fellow inmates who do not want to participate in this behavior and also endangers the safety of all the personnel, both the professional staff and the sworn staff, who are responsible for maintaining the security and control of the entire jail environment.

Gee, why wouldn’t criminals think of the other guy at the jail? Why would he commit an act that so flagrantly defies social norms?

The sheriff answered his own question,

[S]omehow there was the mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment. And that’s not going to happen. Okay?

Wherever would they come up with such an idea? Without irony, without the least bit of self-reflection, tough guy Villanueva called that “mistaken” notion “problematic.”

What’s more “problematic,” a sheriff that let’s out inmates to curb COVID-19 and is surprised when inmates deliberately infect themselves to get out early or a sheriff that let the inmates out in the first place?

We invite your comments below.


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