WATCH: LA Inmates Infect Themselves with COVID in Effort to Secure Early Release

Posted: May 13, 2020 8:55 PM

Los Angeles County inmates deliberately infected themselves with the Wuhan coronavirus in a misguided effort to secure an early release from jail, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) said in a press release. 

A group of inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center-North County Correctional Facility were captured deliberately trying to infect themselves with the Wuhan coronavirus. The LASD determined the inmates did so because they mistakenly thought they would be released after testing positive for the coronavirus. 

In the video, multiple men can be seen sipping from a single bottle of hot water. According to LASD, the hot water served two functions: to elevate the prisoner's temperatures before the nurse took measurements; and to help spread the virus among the inmates. Despite plenty of space for prisoners to practice social distancing, the inmates could be seen sharing the water bottle and congregating in close proximity. In separate footage, another group of inmates can be seen sharing a water cup and taking turns breathing through a common mask.

As a direct result of the actions captured on the video, 21 men tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus within a week. Despite the positive results, the LASD says the inmates will not be released. There are currently 4,590 inmates quarantined within the LA County jail system. Since the outbreak began, there have been a total of 222 confirmed cases, according to LASD.

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has released 25 percent of the county's inmate population in an effort to promote social distancing within the system. The sheriff said the release of 4,000 nonviolent inmates has been effective in helping slow the spread of the virus, at least in the jails, but the Sherriff worried about a potential surge in crime following the release of so many inmates. 

As Los Angeles County's stay-at-home order has now been extended through July, violent crimes and property crimes, in general, have fallen. Criminal homicides have experienced a slight uptick and four individuals have been arrested for violating stay-at-home orders. 

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