Dozens of inmates test positive for virus at San Diego federal jail, defense attorneys say

Petco Park anchors downtown San Diego.
Downtown San Diego. (K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

At least 56 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus last week at a privately run federal jail in downtown San Diego that houses mostly pretrial inmates, according to defense attorneys briefed on the matter.

The GEO Group, which contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to operate the Western Region Detention Facility, is in the process of testing all inmates there “whether or not they are showing any symptoms,” according to Kathy Nester, executive director of Federal Defenders of San Diego.

“Today we received confirmation of a large number of positive tests arising from that ongoing testing,” Nester wrote in an email Friday.

She said 286 inmates were tested Thursday, and of those, 56 tests came back positive, 114 were negative and 116 were pending.

Another 221 tests were submitted Friday, with all of those results still pending, according to Nester.

She said information about the apparent coronavirus outbreak was provided in a Friday phone call with the Marshals Service, which gives Federal Defenders regular updates “advising us of our clients who have tested positive and when there are ongoing quarantines” at its facilities.

“We are extremely worried about the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading through our detention facilities and the impact that will have on our clients and the community at large,” Nester wrote.

A spokesperson for the GEO Group referred a request for comment to the marshals. Calls to the San Diego-area office of the marshals were not answered Friday.

According to the GEO Group, the Western Region Detention Facility can house up to 770 inmates and is accredited by two national correctional organizations.

In April, Voice of San Diego reported that inmates at the facility reported cramped conditions at the jail that did not allow for social distancing. According to the declaration cited in the report, written by Federal Defenders senior litigator Joshua Jones and signed March 31, inmates at the facility reported several other safety concerns, including a lack of hand sanitizer in housing units and a scarcity of soap.

A study published last month in the Annals of Epidemiology found that “jails are epicenters of COVID-19 transmission in the United States.”

The study’s authors wrote that jails “present an ideal setting for infections to spread” because “incarcerated individuals are at higher risk for infection due to unsanitary living conditions and inability to socially distance.” Additionally, the authors wrote that “correctional officers rarely have public health training, and correctional health systems are chronically underfunded.”

Two of the study’s authors, from Stanford University, said an outbreak inside a jail threatens the community outside because “the people who work there enter and leave every day. They can take the virus out into the community when they go home at night.”

The apparent outbreak at the Western Region Detention Facility follows an outbreak at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, another federal jail in downtown San Diego.

As of Friday, there were three confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates at

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Georgia Lawmakers Seek Jail Reform After Reuters Investigation | Top News

(Reuters) – Georgia lawmakers are pressing for stronger jail oversight after a Reuters investigation identified hundreds of deaths in the state’s county jails and dangerous lapses in inmate medical care.

David Wilkerson, a Georgia state lawmaker who had been planning new jail legislation for the upcoming January session, said he intends to cite Reuters’ findings in his proposed reforms.

As part of an examination of deaths at more than 500 jails nationwide, Reuters found 272 inmate deaths among 13 large Georgia jails over more than a decade. At least half of the deaths were caused by a medical condition or illness, and a quarter by suicide.

The news organization exposed healthcare lapses at the jail in Savannah. Another report explored the 2017 death of Chinedu Efoagui, who died at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center after spending 512 days behind bars without ever being tried on the charges for which he was held.

To read the full investigation, Dying Inside, click https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-jails-deaths

Wilkerson, a Cobb County Democrat, said his proposal will focus on improving mental health care in jails, as well as the disclosure and investigation of in-custody deaths.

“It’s impossible for the jail to investigate themselves. At the end of the day you’re asking someone who did something wrong to look at themselves,” said Wilkerson. “The public trust is not there.”

Wilkerson had begun researching new legislation after the death of Kevil Wingo, a 36-year-old Atlantan who died in the Cobb County jail in 2019. He said he was further moved to propose reforms following the Reuters accounts of Efoagui’s death and others in Georgia jails.

Other state legislators say the spate of jail deaths, particularly involving inmates who had not been convicted of their charges, shows the need for enhanced oversight.

“It is a tragedy. It is malpractice on the part of the state of Georgia, and on the counties,” said Mary Margaret Oliver, a Georgia Democratic lawmaker and former magistrate court judge.

Oliver said substandard mental health care in jails must be tackled when lawmakers convene in January. “Jails are significantly the largest mental health facility in the state,” she said. “And we are not attending to the combination of mental illness, addiction, and significant physical health issues.”

The death of Efoagui, a 38-year-old Nigerian native, highlights such concerns. The software programmer was arrested after suffering a mental breakdown during a traffic stop. As his physical and mental health deteriorated behind bars, he begged for help, but died of a pulmonary embolism.

Many of Efoagui’s friends from Nigeria were unaware of the details of his death after he moved to the United States in 2012 to pursue the American dream. They expressed shock when they learned the full story in the Reuters account.

“Mental illness and the inability to post bond should not cost a life,” tweeted Ogechukwu Eze. “Any life.”

(Reporting by Linda So. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Bristol stalker obsessed with former dentist found near clinic after being released from jail

A Bristol man found with a“murder kit” while stalking his former dentist has been jailed again just months after being released from prison.

Tom Baddeley was handed a restraining order and sent to prison in August after previously being found with a crossbow, kitchen knife and a sinister schedule counting down to “the event”.

But although he was jailed for 16 months, Baddeley was released a short time later due to the time had already spent in custody.

In October a police officer spotted the 42-year-old close to the clinic of his former orthodontist and victim Ian Hutchinson in breach of his restraining order.

On Thursday Cardiff Crown Court Thursday that officers knew Baddeley should not be in Chepstow when he was seen close to Mr Hutchinson’s dental practice in the Wye Valley town,

A Gwent Police officer spotted him on a bicycle close to the Severn Bridge on October 7 and saw him park his bicycle and walk towards Mr Hutchinson’s surgery.

Train tickets from Bristol were found in his possession when he was arrested at around 1.10pm but he gave no comment to all questions.

Baddeley was seen wearing a face mask, dark sunglasses, and a cap said Nigel Fryer, prosecuting.

“The officer believed he was trying to disguise himself,” reported WalesOnline.

Mr Fryer said the incident in October came after Baddeley’s “exceptionally sinister” behaviour in 2019 when a court heard he spent years stalking his victim who had no knowledge it of the time.

Mr Hutchinson said the latest incident “did not surprise me” and added he was constantly in fear.

A victim impact statement read to the court said although he was relieved Baddeley was caught “quickly” the incidents mean he has changed every aspect of his life.

The court heard is “constantly looking over my shoulder” and that his partner has left him following the first incident.

He said: “My family feel paranoid and fearful for themselves and for me. My social life is now non-existent. My life is completely changed and now I question everyone I meet.”

Lucy Crowther, defending, said Baddeley had “no intention” to confront Mr Hutchinson and “did not intend any harm”.

Ms Crowther said her client accepts he breached the order and explained: “The observation became something of a hobby.”

In August this year the same court heard Baddeley was caught on November 27, 2019, when a witness saw him sitting in a car wearing a balaclava.

Mr Fryer said she found that “disturbing”, adding: “She was obviously frightened and concerned.”

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Police were alerted and two officers stopped the defendant in Chepstow.

They searched the car and found a crossbow, pack of bolts, a kitchen knife, mask, gloves, lighters, and a hammer. There was also a bottle of bleach, sunglasses, surface wipes, and dust sheets.

Mr Fryer at that hearing said: “It is perhaps not hyperbole to call that

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