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State agrees to move 2,600 inmates at risk of valley fever

July 02, 2013|By Paige St. John
  • Avenal State Prison, one of two prisons under a federal court order to move inmates at risk of valley fever.
Avenal State Prison, one of two prisons under a federal court order to move…

California corrections officials say they will try to "fully comply" with a federal court order to move up to 2,600 inmates at risk of contracting valley fever out of harms way.

Tuesday's announcement follows an order late last month by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, after a court-appointed receiver declared that African Americans and other prisoners with elevated risk of dying from the soil-borne fungus should be immediately moved.

Henderson was critical of California's handling of valley fever outbreaks within its prisons, saying the death of 36 prisoners over the last six years "clearly demonstrated [the state's] unwillingness to respond adequately to the healthcare needs of California's inmate population."

However, the state corrections department said Tuesday that it would not fight the transfer order, and would begin the "complicated logistics" of moving at-risk prisoners from Pleasant Valley and Avenal state prisons.

The department said it already had moved more than 560 medically high-risk prisoners since January. It will allow inmates who wish to remain at Avenal and Pleasant Valley to remain. The court order gives California 90 days to finish the transfers, but the state agency said it may ask for an extension if it needs one.

Epidemiologists from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toured both prisons last month and are expected to make recommendations on further steps California can take.

ALSO:

Inmates ordered removed from prisons with valley fever outbreaks

Jerry Brown presents lawmakers his prison fix

Federal judges order California to free 9,600 inmates

paige.stjohn@latimes.com

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