Watch: Inmates Try To Intentionally Contaminate Themselves with COVID-19 in Hopes of an Early Release


A shocking video shared on Monday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department showed prison inmates going to great lengths to attempt to spread COVID-19 amongst themselves in an attempt to be released early.

In the video from April 26, several inmates at North County Correctional Facility were caught trying to contaminate themselves by sharing a container of water.

Sheriff Alex Villaneuva called it a “gross misunderstanding” among many inmates who were under the impression it would grant them an early release.

Within a day, nine inmates became ill, and 21 in the dorm ultimately tested positive for the disease, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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The Los Angeles Times also reported on a second video, where a separate set of inmates on another floor had a similar idea. That video showed inmates attempting to spread COVID by drinking from the same styrofoam cup and breathing into the same face mask. Nine inmates in that module ultimately tested positive.

On Monday, Sheriff Villanueva shared his dismay over the inmates’ actions.

“Somehow there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive that was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment,” Villanueva said.

“And that’s not going to happen.”

Is releasing thousands of inmates a proper response to the coronavirus?

Sheriff Villanueva Outlines Challenges in Custody Environment Amid COVID-19

Since realizing COVID-19 was underway, headed into our lives, facilities, jails, and daily operations, Sheriff Alex Villanueva directed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees to take precautionary measures for everyone’s protection, including those in our custody environment.Today, Sheriff Villanueva spoke about a dangerous trend in our jail system: Inmates deliberately trying to catch COVID-19, in hopes of early release. Watch the news conference to see Sheriff Villanueva discuss this new plot, and see inmates pass around protective equipment and cups, all in hopes of catching this disease.

Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Monday, May 11, 2020

So far, however, Villanueva has decided to release over 4,000 nonviolent inmates from county jail over coronavirus concerns, according to KTTV.

The inmates caught on tape may have gotten the idea that they would be set free after seeing prisons and jails in their state and across the country release inmates over COVID-19 concerns.

As of April 12, Cook County, Illinois, released hundreds of inmates from Chicago jails and then preceded to block information about their identities and crimes from the public and police.

New York and California have enacted similar policies.

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Kotarra Jackson, a federal prison inmate in Riverhead, New York, and reported member of the Bloods gang, was let out for “compassionate release” on April 13.

The deal included requirements that Jackson follow safe, social-distancing practices. Jackson was returned to prison four days later for not following those requirements.

New York City alone released 1,400 criminals as of April 19, with at least 50 of those convicts being rearrested after committing crimes once freed.

California state prisons have set 3,500 inmates free, including multiple sex offenders.

Perhaps the most shocking case was in Washington state, where the Supreme Court came within one vote of emptying two-thirds of state prisons. Among the inmates set to be released could have been convicted serial killer Gary Ridgeway, who pleaded guilty to killing 48 women.

According to Sheriff Villanueva, North County Correctional Facility inmates were hoping to receive treatment similar to that of the many inmates that have been released across the country. Two of those inmates have since been released, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
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