The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Toni DeRosa
Wasco Tribune 

Pandemic changes life at prison


Jamie Stewart | Wasco Tribune

The coronavirus outbreak has increased monitoring inside Wasco Prison.

As the amount of COVID-19 cases rises daily, the numbers of positive diagnoses provided by the Kern County Department of Health changes almost minute by minute.

And the Wasco Prison is a site where those changes are forcing action to keep prisoners safe.

In a news release by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the department stated it now requires "touchless temperature screening" before being allowed inside.

The policy applies to new prisoners, staff and visitors.

Testing for correctional officer new hires and in-service training has been suspended.

The prisons also have suspended rehabilitation programs and group events, such as anger management programs. All parole hearings have been postponed, and all out-of-state transfers have halted.

In addition, the Office of Correctional Education is working to make in-cell education programs available. This would give inmates the opportunity to earn credits while their interaction is limited.

The CDCR also has suspended all large-scale construction projects located within a secure area of the prison.

Along with temperature screening, all who enter the prison will be asked standard verbal questions regarding their health. A verbal screening is mandatory for every employee entering work.

Staff is allowed to carry two ounces of personal-use hand sanitizer. The incarcerated are being given extra soap when requested and hospital-grade disinfectant.


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