COVID‑19 Response Efforts
- Board of Parole Hearings/Parole suitability hearings
- California Prison Industry Authority production
- Cloth face coverings/Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Conservation Camp Program
- Construction projects
- County Jail Intake
- Dental Services
- Division of Adult Parole Operations
- Division of Juvenile Justice
- Flu Vaccine Awareness
- Health care services
- Hiring and academies
- Mental Health Delivery Services
- Modified Community Correctional Facilities and Community Reentry Programs
- Oversight and Compliance
- Physical distancing
- Rehabilitative programs & education
- Release Actions and Reentry Resources
- Resolved Cases
- Sanitation, laundry & hand hygiene
- Staff screening
- Testing for Incarcerated Population
- Testing for Staff
- Transportation/Receiving and Release protocols
- Visiting, communication, mail and packages
BOARD OF PAROLE HEARINGS/PAROLE SUITABILITY HEARINGS
Due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) has been holding parole suitability hearings via video and telephone conference for more than one full year as of May 7. BPH continues holding parole suitability hearings via video and telephone conference until further notice.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 24 executive order ceased in-person parole hearings for 60 days, and granted the Secretary the authority to extend the prohibition by 30 days in order to protect the health and welfare of incarcerated people, board officers, legal counsel, and victims’ representatives. All affected parole-hearing participants are notified.
BPH held 3,609 parole suitability hearings by video and telephone conference between April 1, 2020 and June 11, 2021. The breakdown of the results of those hearing are as follows:
- 1,572 resulted in grants or parole suitability proposals (35.3 percent). For comparison, BPH’s at-hearing Parole Suitability grant proposal rate for all of 2019 was 34 percent.
- 2,883 resulted in denials (64.7 percent). For all of 2019, BPH’s at-hearing denial rate was 66 percent.
- Also, in period: 480 incarcerated people waived their hearing, 951 hearings were postponed, 345 inmates stipulated to unsuitability, and 59 hearings were continued.
- The total number of hearings originally scheduled were 6,291. Of those, the total number of hearings not held, as detailed above, were 1,835.
- One hearing resulted in a tie vote. (Decision reffered to the full board.)
- The numbers and percentages shown above of the proposed grants and denials are the full tally of the 4,455 hearings that took place.
Board of Juvenile Hearings proceedings will take place as scheduled via video conference only.
For more information, click here.
CALIFORNIA PRISON INDUSTRY AUTHORITY RESPONSE EFFORTS
Since the pandemic hit our community, CDCR and CALPIA have been strongly committed to responding to this public health emergency and to protecting both staff and the incarcerated population.
CALPIA takes the health and safety of our staff and incarcerated workforce very seriously and we value everyone working in our enterprises. CALPIA protects workers and follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in addressing COVID-19.
CALPIA is slowly reopening its enterprises and programs to meet CDC, CDPH, and local county guidelines and ordinances.
Throughout the pandemic, CALPIA continued to operate essential enterprises like food services, laundry, chemical, health care facilities maintenance and other essential services.
All CALPIA staff and incarcerated individuals participating in CALPIA’s programs have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine and continue to follow CDCR and CCHCS protocols for testing and screening.
Cloth face covering/Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The incarcerated population is required to wear facial barriers when moving around the institution. Staff working or performing duties on institutional grounds are required to wear procedure (surgical) masks; those who do not comply face progressive discipline.
In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health guidlines, masks are not required for staff or incarcerated people when they are outdoors, as long as six feet of physical distancing can be maintained. All employees, contractors, and visitors must wear a procedure, KN95 or N95 mask at all times when indoors, unless they are eating or drinking (while maintaining six feet physical distance), or alone in a closed office or tower/enclosed control booth with no other present. Incarcerated people must wear approved facial coverings at all times indoors, unless they are in their assigned cell or bunk area; when eating, drinking, showering, shaving or performing oral hygiene if a minimum of six feet physical distance is maintained from all others; or participating in outdoor firefighter training.
Those in the incarcerated population identified as critical workers are being provided surgical masks throughout their shifts.
Additionally, maintaining physical distancing requirements when moving about the institution for routine tasks is still recommended. These masks are not intended for direct patient care scenarios. Required personal protective equipment is provided during required close-contact health care procedures.
The incarcerated population are permitted to keep their CALPIA masks upon their scheduled release.
CDCR and CCHCS have established a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) workgroup to monitor and assess institutions to ensure staff have an adequate supply of PPE to immediately address COVID-19, and to protect staff and incarcerated people. The workgroup will continue to collaborate and maintain open lines of communication with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to identify any deficiencies and ensure adequate supplies are available at each institution on an ongoing basis.
For the recommended use of PPE by incarcerated persons and staff in a correctional setting during the COVID-19 pandemic, see the CCHCS Interim Guidance here.
Conservation Camp Program
The health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff continues to be our top priority. We will continue to work with our partners during this pandemic to balance that priority with being able to provide assistance to California’s wildfire prevention and response efforts.
California Correctional Center (CCC) in Susanville serves as the primary hub for providing training and placement of incarcerated people in Northern California conservation camps. Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) in Jamestown serves as the primary hub for Southern California conservation camps.
Firefighter training is continuing at both CCC and SCC to ensure that a loaded pipeline of prepared incarcerated firefighters can be deployed as needed to support CAL FIRE in their response to emergencies and wildfires.
CCC and SCC continue to transfer incarcerated firefighters to northern and southern region fire camps in a limited capacity. These transfers are occurring in accordance with the CDCR/CCHCS Movement Matrix.
Prior to being transferred to conservation camps, incarcerated firefighters who have finished their training are tested for COVID-19 and quarantined for a 14-day period. Additionally, all fire camp crews are screened daily for symptoms related to COVID-19.
If an incarcerated firefighter is suspected or confirmed to be positive for COVID-19, they will be transported to the closest appropriate institution with celled housing for quarantine/isolation placement. Additionally, when a conservation camp is placed on quarantine, the incarcerated population housed at the camp will receive COVID-19 testing and daily healthcare screenings from nursing staff.
To minimize potential COVID-19 transmission during required close-contact procedures with the population, all staff are required to wear all personal protective equipment in accordance with state and national health care and public health guidance. At all other times, the use of facial barriers are required to be worn by both staff and the incarcerated population to protect all those who live and work in our institutions and conservation camps, as well as the community at-large.
When not under quarantine, conservation camps are still operating and housing incarcerated people. They continue to complete community service projects when not fighting fires; which include clearing brush and fallen trees, maintaining parks, and reforestation. Currently, individual projects are being completed on a case-by-case basis after review and approval by the camp captain to ensure health and safety guidance to address COVID-19 can be followed.
As part of CDCR’s overall effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at its facilities, including conservation camps, the department is educating staff and the incarcerated population on steps they can take to protect themselves from COVID-19, which include proper hand washing and physical distancing.
In March 2020, CDCR suspended large-scale construction projects located within the secure perimeter of CDCR facilities to protect the health of contractors, incarcerated individuals, staff and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with the state’s reopening plan, the Facility Planning, Construction and Management Division (FPCM) restarted suspended design and construction projects in phases beginning June 2020. All projects were restarted by January 2021.
All on-site employees of general contractors and construction management firms are verbally screened for symptoms and have their temperature taken before entering the facility; those whose workplace is outside of the screening location self-certify daily to the screening questions. These employees also wear a face mask when meeting with CDCR personnel and follow CDCR’s face covering policy when inside the secure perimeter.
Some of the restarted projects are part of the Inmate/Ward Labor Program (IWL), in which incarcerated individuals learn basic construction skills and earn certifications by working on construction projects in the prison under the supervision and training of journeymen in various trades. Prior to resuming the IWL projects, IWL met with each prison to review projects to determine if any project modifications were necessary for incarcerated workers to work safely on the project and revised processes as needed.
County jail intake
A set of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the extension of Positive Programming Credits for those held in county jail pending transfer to CDCR is available here.
The CDCR Division of Adult Institutions and CCHCS have worked to resume intake operations in a safe and controlled manner that protects the health and well-being of all who live and work in state prisons. Since March, the majority of individuals sentenced to state prison have been retained in county jails pending transfer to CDCR. A limited reopening has occurred several times over the pandemic, but were suspended based on public health guidance due to rising positive cases in the community.
On March 24, 2020, CDCR halted the intake and transfer of county jail inmates per Governor Gavin Newson’s Executive Order. CDCR first resumed limited intake on May 25, which was halted on June 19, 2020 as a result of positive inmate cases received from county jails. CDCR then resumed county intake on Aug. 24 after finalization of the CDCR/CCHCS Patient Movement Matrix and close coordination with the California State Sheriffs’ Association and public health experts to develop a plan to resume intake in a safe manner.
As a result of an increase in both positive cases in CDCR’s prisons as well as increasing COVID-19 cases in the community, CDCR once again suspended county jail intake on Nov. 26, 2020. County jail intake resumed the week of Jan. 11 and is ongoing at this time.
CDCR worked closely with the California State Sheriffs’ Association and public health experts to develop a plan to resume intake in a controlled, limited manner. When open, county jail intake is prioritized for those counties identified as having the greatest need to create space in their facilities.
In an abundance of caution, and in collaboration with counties, the medical clearance process prior to transfer shall include COVID-19 testing and symptom screening prior to transfer, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during transfer, and a quarantine period upon arrival. All movement is being directed by the Patient Movement Matrix.
While CDCR recognizes the suspension of intake has been challenging for county jails, and for those held in county jails and their loved ones in a time of great uncertainty, it has been a necessary step. In recognition of those challenges, the Administration identified $31.2 million in state General Fund last year to reimburse county jails, with CDCR paying a per diem of $93.54 per inmate.
CDCR will continuously evaluate this process and will increase, decrease, or suspend intake in accordance with health care and public health guidance. When open, the following protocols are in place:
- Priority will be given to counties currently conducting COVID-19 viral testing and in agreement to test upon admission approval and transfer within the time frames below and who complete a symptom screening the day of transfer.
- It is required that test results be provided to health care staff at the RC prior to transfer.
- Priority will be given to counties extremely limited on jail space.
- Prioritization of which individuals to transfer will be at the counties’ discretion.
- All incarcerated people will require proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test prior to transfer, including those who have previously been infected with COVID-19 and/or vaccinated for COVID-19. In the event someone tests positive after their COVID-19 case has resolved, see the “Positive test” guidelines below.
- The test must be a viral test, either polymerase chain reaction, also known as PCR, or a rapid antigen test.
- PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests must have a negative result within five days prior to transfer; point-of-care (rapid) tests must have a negative result reported within 24 hours prior to transfer.
- Serology, or antibody, tests will not be accepted, as they detect only past COVID-19 infection, not active cases.
- Individuals must be transported within five days of PCR test administration or 24 hours of rapid test administration.
- If a test is indeterminate, it must be repeated.
- Individuals who have tested positive on a viral test within the 14 days prior to transport will not be accepted unless criteria outlined below for “Positive tests” are met.
- Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, regardless of their test results, will not be transferred.
- Those refusing to test will not be transferred.
- At this time, people who have been vaccinated must follow the same quarantine, testing, and transport protocols as those who have not been vaccinated, as there is not data yet to tell us if vaccinated people can get infected and become infectious to the people around them. If someone has received the first dose of the vaccine, RC health care staff must be informed so the second vaccine can be scheduled and administered at the RC.
- County medical staff shall send testing results for each transferring person (name, testing date, and results) in advance to RC health care colleagues prior to arrival.
- A manifest of people transferring shall be sent in advance to the RC Classification and Parole Representative.
- Transports shall occur within five days of PCR test administration (or 24 hours for rapid antigen tests), and only those with a negative test will be approved. Those testing positive will not be accepted unless they are medically cleared as noted in the “Positive tests” section below.
- No transfer will occur out of quarantine or isolation areas.
- COVID-19 symptom screening should occur within 24 hours prior to transfer.
- All incarcerated people and transportation staff must wear N95 masks during transfer.
- All new arrivals will be screened and tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and then multiple times while in quarantine.
- All new arrivals will be quarantined in cell-based housing for 14 days after arrival in designated quarantine housing.
- Arrivals will be released from quarantine after 14 days if they are asymptomatic and test negative for COVID-19 on or after day 12.
- If the test is positive and the individual has a history of COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days, further coordination is needed prior to the individual being accepted for intake.
- Re-positives within 90 days of initial infection generally represent the presence of non-infectious viral particles.
- Re-positives after 90 days may represent reinfection and require careful evaluation to ensure they are not infections.
- In the event an individual who has resolved from COVID-19 within the past 90 days has a positive test, jail staff will need to coordinate with the local health officer and with RC health care staff before the individual is cleared for intake.
- Medical clearance by the county health officer (or physician designee) is required for individuals who test positive after their COVID-19 case has resolved. Documentation provided to the RC health care staff must include evidence of prior COVID-19 infection as well as evidence that the individual is not infectious despite having a positive test result. Examples of specific data elements are listed in the table below. Initial infections must have been confirmed by PCR. Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not be transferred.
If an individual has a need to transfer from county detention directly to specialized housing for a higher level of care, advance coordination is required by the CCHCS Director of Health Care Services and Director of Health Care Operations and Corrections Services. The same testing, transfer, and quarantine protocols will be followed.
The transfer of individuals requiring any specialized medical or mental health housing to include, but not limited to, use of wheelchairs or dialysis treatment, need to be coordinated in advance prior to transfer. Coordination should occur with the RC Classification and Parole Representative (C&PR), Intake Control Unit, and CCHCS. Individuals with housing needs relative to developmental or physical impacting conditions needing accommodations should be coordinated as well. Please notify the C&PR’s office and the Intake Control Unit immediately with this information so appropriate housing can be identified in advance and coordination between county and institutional medical staff can occur.
The California Dental Association recommends that all non-urgent dental care be suspended. For the description of the American Dental Association’s definition for urgent/emergency services, visit their resource here.
Effective immediately and until further notice, dental treatment shall be limited to Dental Priority Classification (DPC) 1 conditions (urgent care). For more information on what qualifies as urgent care, view HCDOM 184.108.40.206.
In order to reduce risks to patients and staff, all non-urgent offsite specialty appointments will be re-scheduled to a later time. Telemedicine appointments will continue at this time.
Division of Adult Parole Operations
In order to protect the health and safety of California families and communities during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) is continuing to use adjusted supervision protocols in line with the Governor’s four-stage “Resilience Roadmap” in adherence of California’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
California is now in Stage 2 (lower-risk workplaces), therefore:
- Home visits have resumed, but in a modified form.
- Parole agents will usually not enter parolees’ homes but instead make contact at the front door,
- Parolees and agents will practice physical distancing,
- Parole agents maintain the authority to conduct anti-narcotic testing when necessary to maintain public safety; even though routine drug-testing is currently suspended
- Agents may make telephonic contact or use other technology to keep in contact with parolees
- DAPO will continue minimizing in-person parole office reporting
- DAPO will continue to follow physical distancing guidelines.
- All DAPO personnel and parolees must undergo screenings before entering a parole office.
- Office visits with parolees will continue to be limited to:
– initial / comprehensive interviews,
– critical needs,
– statutory requirements/duties and
- Parolees who must register per sex offender laws, are homeless, or do not have access to a telephone must report to the parole office in-person.
- At the discretion of the agent, telephonic contact or other forms of contact through technology may be utilized for those who are sick or considered high-risk (i.e. 65 years and older, chronic health conditions).
Please note that while the majority of the parole offices across the state are operating at a level 2 stage, occasionally COVID-19 infection rates will vary by counties. DAPO may find it necessary to impose tighter or more lax protocols in keeping with infection risks in different locations.
Project Hope is a COVID-19 pandemic mitigation program designed to help protect California communities by providing recently released inmates with a voluntary program in which they can get free hotel accommodations in which to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 exposure or positive status. CDCR, California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), and California Department of General Services (DGS) collaboratively provide safe transportation, hotel accommodations, and meal service to all participants. Agents from CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations work collaboratively with their law enforcement and community partners to help ensure COVID-19 affected state parolees and county probationers have safe shelter and adequate nutrition while they are in isolation or quarantine.
- Parolees get temporary reporting instructions upon release from prison.
- Parolees are receiving best practices regarding hand washing, disinfecting, and physical distancing.
- Parolees must call their assigned Parole Office within the first business day following release to speak with their Parole Agent or the Officer of the Day for instructions and/or assistance.
For frequently asked questions and background on Project Hope click here: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/project-hope/
Division of Juvenile Justice
As of July 6, 2021 there are no cases of COVID-19 among youth at DJJ facilities in the past 14 days. A total of 205 cases have resolved since first diagnosed on June 14, 2020 with no reported serious symptoms or deaths.
DJJ is following isolation and quarantine protocols in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and local health authorities to address COVID-19.
Family visitation was suspended March 2020 and has resumed effective April 10, 2021.
Intake at DJJ resumed the week of Feb. 1, 2021, after being suspended since Nov. 24, 2020. Intake of youth had previously resumed on Sept. 22, 2020, following a two month suspension dating to July 30, 2020. Intake was originally suspended March 17, due to COVID-19, and resumed May 26.
Per protocol, groups of no more than ten youth arrive approximately every two weeks and will held separately from other youth while being tested twice for COVID-19 before being allowed to join the population.
To ensure health and safety during the intake, transfer, and discharge process, youth are tested before arrival, upon arrival and before discharge, or if they exhibit any symptoms or are believed to have been in contact with a COVID-19-positive person. Proper isolation and quarantine measures are put into place if a youth tests positive, and health care screening is provided.
All staff, volunteers and visitors are given the same health screenings in place at other state institutions, including temperature checks and periodic and/or as-needed COVID-19 testing.
Staff will undergo testing every other week as part of ongoing COVID-19 surveillance. All youth are required to wear cloth face coverings, and have access to hand washing stations and sanitizers. DJJ is enforcing physical distancing directives and staff are required to wear procedure (surgical) masks when on institution grounds.
DJJ began virtual visitation at all four of its youth facilities effective April 11, 2020.
Video visiting appointments are requested by approved visitors for DJJ youth via a dedicated email address and scheduled in 30-minute blocks during regular weekend visitation hours. The visitation takes place on laptop computers placed on tables in standard visiting areas to give youth privacy and assure social distancing is taking place. Appointment requests are screened by staff to make sure that only approved visitors are utilizing the service. A news release announcing the launch of the new program is available here. Directions are posted around the DJJ facilities so that youth can share the information with their support system.
DJJ encourages letter writing as a way to stay in touch and is increasing the number of postage stamps available to youth
The California Education Authority is continuing high school classes for youth in DJJ.
On April 14, 2020, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order addressing the release and reentry process at DJJ so that youth may be discharged safely and quickly. The executive order calls for all discharge and reentry hearings to be held via videoconference to minimize the youth and other participants’ exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, notification given to county probation departments, the court in the county of commitment, and the youth’s legal counsel may be shortened from 60 days to 30 days before the Board of Juvenile Hearings (BJH) discharge consideration hearing.
The order also allows for reentry consideration hearings—normally held in the county court—to take place at the DJJ facility where the youth is housed. This new timeframe does not impact victim notification, as they already receive a 30-day notice. Victims and victim representatives will be able to participate in the videoconference hearings.Go to the BJH website for more information: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/juvenile-justice/juvenile-parole-board/
For the latest on steps DJJ is taking to protect youth from COVID-19, visit the DJJ webpage here.
Release Actions and Reentry Resources
Since the global coronavirus pandemic hit our community, CDCR and CCHCS have worked tirelessly to implement measures to protect staff, the incarcerated population, and the community at-large. This includes the biggest reduction in prison population in recent history, more than 22,000 since March 2020, which has been done in a manner consistent with public safety, and for the health and safety of the population and our staff.
In its first round of expedited releases in April, CDCR announced the release of approximately 3,500 incarcerated persons who were due to be released within 60 days or less and were not currently serving time for a violent crime as defined by law, domestic violence, or a person required to register under Penal Code 290. These releases were completed by April 13. The releases increased capacity and space to help with movement, physical distancing, and quarantine and isolation efforts for positive COVID-19 cases. For frequently asked questions on the April release actions, visit our FAQ page here.
On July 10, 2020, CDCR announced additional actions to protect its most vulnerable population and staff from COVID-19, and to allow state prisons to maximize available space to implement physical distancing, isolation, and quarantine efforts. For more information, read an overview of the release actions here: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/frequently-asked-questions-expedited-releases/. The last list of eligible incarcerated people was created on July 29, 2021.
Any incarcerated person who is actively positive or who is on active quarantine status will not have their release expedited. We will continue to maintain custody of those patients until they have been identified as “resolved” by health care professionals and are medically cleared for release.
Those who have met their regularly scheduled release date after serving their full term under the law who are either positive for COVID-19, or are identified as being in quarantine due to being a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, are being offered housing in the community through Project Hope. CDCR cannot hold anyone past their scheduled release date.
Project Hope is an initiative to provide hotel accommodations to people released from state prison, and who have a need to safely quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 exposure or positive status, but do not have housing in place to do so. It is a coordinated effort of CDCR, the California Department of General Services (DGS) and California Office of Emergency Services (OES) to secure hotel and motel rooms to protect formerly incarcerated people who are at risk for homelessness or housing instability, and the communities to which they are returning. More information about Project Hope is available here: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/project-hope/
The department is also using a $15 million allocation of funds from Board of State and Community Corrections to expand existing contracts with community reentry programs for increased bed space. http://www.bscc.ca.gov/news/bscc-approves-covid-funds-to-help-house-up-to-8000-leaving-cdcr/
CDCR has established a network of community-based parolee reentry programs throughout the state. These provide support services, including substance use disorder treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, education, life skills, and help finding employment. Some programs also provide recovery and reentry housing.
Reentry housing is voluntary for most parolees who have an assessed need for services. Only long-term offenders mandated by the Board of Parole Hearings are required to participate in residential or transitional housing services. (Those offenders placed on probation are under the oversight of the county where they are released.)
CDCR’s parole system provides unique levels of service to the parolee based on the parolee’s individual needs and safety of the community. For more on parole services, see: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/parole/parole/parole-services/
All parolees receive two placement assessments – one prior to release and one after. If a placement assessment determines that the level of care does not match the assessed need, a referral to the appropriate level of care will be made. The offender is allowed to stay at the initial program until an alternate program is identified.
Long-term offenders are generally allowed to remain at the program until an alternate placement for a lower level of care is identified or until they volunteer and are able to transition back into a separate residence.
CDCR’s Division of Rehabilitative Programs contracts with six regionally based contractors who then subcontract to provide reentry housing and wraparound services. DRP provides oversight of these programs contracted to provide services directly to the post-release population by reviewing program quality and monitoring key performance indicators.
For those on probation, CDCR works with counties to ensure former offenders receive assistance finding reentry housing. Local governments are being encouraged to take advantage of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order which provides nearly $150 million to local governments to provide emergency shelter for homeless people or individuals at risk of becoming homeless.
Flu Vaccine Awareness
With flu season coinciding with a rise in COVID-19 cases across a large portion of the country, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever. CDCR and CCHCS raised flu vaccine awareness throughout the season with posters, videos on the DRP-TV Wellness channel. An FAQ of common questions about the Flu Vaccine was also made available to inmates.
Health care services
The health and safety of our population is of critical importance to CDCR and CCHCS. While our agency is working together to prepare for and respond to COVID-19, we will continue to provide urgent health care services. To reduce risks to both patients and staff. Additionally, some specialty and routine care has been delayed as a result of both internal redirections and external closures. All canceled appointments will be rescheduled as soon as safely possible. Health care staff will continue to see and treat patients through the 7362 process.
CCHCS has issued COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Health Care and Public Health Providers. This document provides clinical guidelines related to testing, quarantine and isolation housing, and treatment to public health and health care providers in response to COVID-19 cases in the California prison system.
CDCR and CCHCS have launched an internal patient registry to assist institutions in monitoring patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The COVID-19 Registry also tracks all individuals by risk. The registry is updated twice daily and draws from multiple data sources, including the electronic health record system, claims data, and the Strategic Offender Management System to compile risk factor data. This registry also includes release date information for each individual, in the event that individuals are to be considered for early release during the pandemic. This tool is not publically available as it contains personal health care information protected by medical privacy laws.
Hiring and Academies
To address COVID-19, CDCR has implemented a series of measures to keep staff, correctional officer cadets, and candidates safe during the application, screening, and Basic Correctional Officer Academy.
OPOS has limited the size and number of candidate groups for written exams and physical fitness tests and wearing masks is required (based on county mandate). The Background Investigation Unit continues to process candidates. Medical examinations are being conducted and online alternatives are being offered for the psychological screening interviews. Candidates will continue to be processed for upcoming academies to meet CDCR hiring needs.
We strongly encourage cadets to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before attending the Academy. If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine there will be a voluntary COVID-19 shot clinic during the first few weeks of the Academy. Cadets who do not show proof of COVID-19 vaccinated record will participate in mandatory regular COVID-19 tests during their time at the Academy. All cadets are provided masks that must be worn while on grounds and physical distancing is enforced throughout the Academy. Classrooms and common areas are being cleaned frequently.
Mental Health Delivery Services
The well-being and safety of the incarcerated population and staff within CDCR and CCHCS is our top priority. We understand how vitally important it is to deliver comprehensive mental health services within our institutions at all times, but especially during these extraordinary times of heightened uncertainty.
To mitigate potential spread of COVID-19 within California’s prisons, we have implemented a series of precautionary measures to limit movement of both staff and the incarcerated population between and throughout institutions, while the department’s dedicated team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and nursing staff have worked tirelessly to continue to provide mental health delivery services. These include: limiting the number of participants in group programs to allow for physical distancing, issuing medication directly to patients in the living areas, providing mental health check-ins to patients during COVID-19 health care screenings that occur multiple times daily, and increasing our use of telehealth where group programs have been limited.
To limit the disruption of mental health service delivery for those institutions with none, or very few cases, where possible, we have adjusted group therapy services so they may be held with physical distancing measures in place. The incarcerated population is required to wear their cloth facial barriers while moving to and from these sessions. Staff are also required to wear facial barriers while on institution grounds.
To address the reduction of group therapy sessions available in some institutions, the department has increased the use of in-cell activities and telehealth where mental health services can be provided via live video chat with a clinician directly to the patient’s cell.
For those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and placed in medical isolation, CDCR and CCHCS continue to offer mental health check-ins directly to the patient at least twice daily. Staff are required to wear all personal protective equipment (PPE) recommended by state and national public health and health care directives when providing mental health check-ins.
For those mental health patients identified on quarantine status due to a potential COVID-19 exposure, mental health staff are providing services within the patient’s housing unit where they can protect patient confidentiality and provide services on a one-on-one basis. Staff and patients must wear required PPE while conducting these sessions.
CDCR and CCHCS understand the emergent nature of mental health services. We work diligently to reduce instances of mental health crises among our population, but if one does occur we immediately address the patient’s needs. Those that express they are in distress or seek assistance are seen within 24 hours by a mental health professional to determine if the patient requires a higher level of care. If a patient is determined to require a higher level of care, CDCR and CCHCS are working diligently to follow all transfer timeline and placement requirements while also adhering to COVID-19 patient movement and transfer testing requirements.
Modified Community Correctional Facilities and Community Reentry Programs
CDCR has resumed transfers into the Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP), the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP), and the Alternative Custody Program (ACP), with protocols in place throughout to protect participants, staff, and the communities. Transfers to these programs are made using protocols outlined in the Movement Matrix. All transferring individuals and staff must wear an N95 respirator mask during transfer. CDCR works with each MCRP and CCTRP contractor to ensure they are following COVID-19 safety protocols, including physical distancing, disinfecting, and quarantine/isolation protocols for symptomatic or exposed participants. As part of these programs, incarcerated persons remain under the jurisdiction and responsibility of CDCR, to include ensuring any required medical attention is provided.
Operations / Oversight and Compliance
Out of an abundance of caution, and to ensure our state prisons are immediately prepared to address any COVID-19 case at an institution, all California state prisons have been directed to activate their Incident Command Posts, regardless of whether there are active COVID-19 cases at the institution. The ICP is a central emergency operations location where CDCR and CCHCS health care and public health experts monitor information, prepare for known and unknown events, and exchange information centrally in order to make decisions and provide guidance quickly.
Captains or area managers within housing units at each institution are required to submit weekly compliance reviews in order to verify staff are following the mandatory COVID-19 protocols regarding physical distancing, wearing of masks by staff and the incarcerated population, dormitory housing units are separated by six feet in all directions, there are regular sanitation and best practices announcements over institution sound systems, increased cleaning/disinfecting, educational poster displays and television content, and availability of hand sanitizer in designated areas.
On July 21, CDCR notified wardens and chief executive officers that staff from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) would be tested for COVID-19. Because OIG staff members regularly visit prisons and other facilities to conduct audits and compliance reviews, plans are being developed to incorporate them into the CDCR employee testing schedule starting in August. OIG staff will continue their institution visits until that time.
The incarcerated population and staff have received information about physical distancing, and strategies where possible; including limiting groups to no more than 10, assigning bunks to provide more space between individuals, rearranging scheduled movements to minimize mixing of people from different housing areas, encouraging physical distancing during yard time, and adjusting dining schedules where possible to allow for for smaller groups and additional cleaning and disinfecting of dining halls.
In addition to providing facial barriers and hand sanitizer to both staff and the incarcerated population, the following measures have been implemented to increase physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Educational materials have been continuously produced based on new guidance and direction from public health and health care experts through the inmate advisory councils, public announcement systems, via posters and flyers placed throughout the prisons, verbal directives from custody staff, and video programming broadcast to TVs throughout the prisons
- In various areas where people must wait in lines—such as canteen lines and medication lines—the prisons have marked six-foot intervals on the ground to help inmates remember to continuously distance themselves from others.
- Limiting the number of people in the dayrooms to ensure there is sufficient space for physical distancing.
- Dining-hall schedules have been modified to limit the number of people in the dining hall to allow for better physical distancing
- Throughout the day, announcements are made over public-announcement systems in some dorm locations reminding people to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Rehabilitative Programs, Religious Services & Education
Guided by public health guidelines and CDCR’s reopening plan, all institutions are once again offering some rehabilitative programming. Activities in small, socially-distanced groups are allowed and education is made available through both in-person instruction and independent study. All tours and events remain postponed.
The Office of Correctional Education (OCE) is continuing to partner with colleges and universities that provide correspondence, live remote instruction, and in-person college at adult prisons. College coordinators and teachers are continuing to assist with distributing materials and proctoring final exams. The goal of OCE and CDCR is to continue to support college classes as our response to COVID-19 evolves.
As facilities progress through reopening phases, law and recreational library services are able to resume allowing offender physical access to the libraries in small groups with social distancing. Offenders who have legal deadlines within 30 days, continue to receive priority over non legal library users.
CDCR provides English Learners and students with special learning needs additional support with their coursework, through a specialized teacher. Tutoring is also made available to students after school. In addition, standardized testing resumes as inmates and students are able to be administered exams in person.
CDCR recognizes the importance of religion in the daily life and spiritual growth of incarcerated people. Religious services will be provided as in-cell services as an alternative. Chaplains will conduct individual religious counseling as appropriate while maintaining social distancing, and CDCR is working to provide televised religious services to the population.
Payments for Innovative Programming Grant (IGP) grantees will be distributed as scheduled. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. DRP continues to coordinate with program providers to develop alternative programming models.
COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have a wide range of symptoms, from mild symptoms to severe illness. A person who recovers from a COVID-19 illness is considered “resolved.” CCHCS has produced an FAQ covering the definition of a Resolved Case under California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Correctional Health Care Services standards. These standards are based on best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sanitation & Hand Hygiene
All CDCR institutions have been instructed to conduct additional deep-cleaning efforts in high-traffic, high-volume areas, including visiting and health care facilities. Those in the incarcerated population identified as assisting with cleaning areas of the institution have received direct instruction on proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures in order to eliminate coronavirus.
Communal areas such as dayrooms, showers, restrooms and offices are cleaned between uses. Disinfecting frequency has been increased, including regular disinfecting of touch points (telephones, door knobs, desk areas, etc.). All cleaning practices will allow for physical distancing of staff and porters who are also provided ample cleaning supplies and protective equipment including gloves and masks.
Additionally, when a cell or bunk is vacated, the assigned inmate porter shall be responsible for disinfecting the space. For restricted housing units, cleaning is performed by staff.
Staff screening and precautions
All staff and visitors entering CDCR correctional institutions will complete a daily self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposures
Individuals may not enter a state prison or office building at any time if they are experiencing COVID-related symptoms not caused by a diagnosed health carecondition; experiencing unexplained/unusual fatigue, muscle/body aches, headaches and have not been vaccinated within the last three days; are unvaccinated and have been in close contact with anyone known to have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment in the last 14 days; or have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days.
CDCR makes every effort to ensure staff do not enter areas where they are not assigned. All staff are required to wear face masks while on duty. In quarantined and or isolated areas, staff are required to wear additional PPE. In addition no staff assigned to the area is allowed to enter the quarantined or isolated area.
Testing for Incarcerated Population
CDCR has implemented at each prison an additional COVID-19 testing process that provides results within 15 minutes or less. This “point of care” rapid testing will be used to assist in the transfer and reception process at CDCR institutions, as well as high-risk patients where immediate knowledge of infection status is critical. All new arrivals will be placed into quarantine for 14 days and tested within 24 hours of arrival.
Please see the “COVID Screening and Testing Matrix for Patient Movement” for additional testing information for the incarcerated population.
CDCR and CCHCS are actively working with state public health partners and other external stakeholders to produce faster testing results. This will greatly contribute to our ability to make rapidly informed decisions regarding housing, staffing, and treatment to protect all those who live and work in our state prisons.
CDCR and CCHCS have a testing strategy that is consistent with guidance provided by federal and state public health experts. The strategy remains flexible as we continuously reassess the overall dynamic of this virus and respond accordingly to the needs of each unique institution.
To view data about statewide testing efforts, view the population case tracker.
Testing for the incarcerated population is offered in the following circumstances, with the top priority always being symptomatic patients:
- Symptomatic patients
- Outbreak investigations
- Arrival at Reception Center from county jail
- Transfers out of Reception Centers and restricted housing
- Surveillance testing
Consistent with guidance from state and local public health officials, CDCR is conducting surveillance testing of incarcerated individuals at all adult institutions. Surveillance testing is used to detect outbreaks in an early phase, even before the development of symptoms. Early detection and rapid outbreak response can limit the spread of infection and prevent morbidity and mortality. Additionally, with sufficient numbers of appropriately selected patients testing negative, an institution can demonstrate with confidence the absence of an outbreak.
This voluntary testing will be performed across multiple facilities at each institution each month. Priority will be given to asymptomatic individuals who have been identified as vulnerable or high-risk for complications of COVID-19. Such testing will give CDCR and CCHCS a baseline of cases as a preventive measure and for data-gathering purposes, as we work toward safely resuming operations.
We continue to look into the expansion of testing throughout the state while taking into consideration local county input as well as statewide mitigation and response strategies.
For more detailed information about testing protocols for the incarcerated population, view the COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Health Care and Public Health Providers.
Testing for staff
As of Dec. 21, any staff member who refuses to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing will be sent home without pay. In addition, an employee who refuses testing will also be subject to the employee progressive discipline process, beginning with a formal written reprimand.
All CDCR/CCHCS supervisors and managers are actively monitoring staff to ensure they consistently wear approved face coverings correctly, practice physical distancing, and comply with mandatory employee COVID-19 testing. Read more here.
To further prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect those who live and work in our institutions, CDCR is requiring ongoing mandatory testing of all adult and youth institutions staff statewide, regardless of number of COVID-19 cases.
CDCR and CCHCS are extending the reprieve from routine surveillance testing for all fully vaccinated staff and incarcerated people through the month of July. During this time, CCHCS will continue to monitor the health of our staff and residents to determine if routine testing can be stopped altogether for fully vaccinated persons. Testing will continue for inmates and employees who are identified as close contacts of active cases. Testing for inmates will also continue as described in the current movement matrix, as part of the in person visiting program, and prior to dental encounters.
CDCR and CCHCS have developed these frequently asked questions related to mandatory COVID-19 staff testing.
In coordination with California Department of Public Health, CDCR developed a staff testing plan for those who have been redirected to an institution due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The plan includes a quarantine period between the last day worked at the prison experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and initial testing, outlines use of telework and administrative time-off while in quarantine and between testing results, and health and safety protocols immediately after the return to their home institution.
Transportation/Receiving and Release protocols
All movement deemed essential that is happening within and throughout state prisons is guided by the CCHCS Patient Movement Matrix.
We are taking precautions necessary to increase physical distancing during these transportations, including significantly limiting the number of inmates in-transit per vehicle and have provided staff and inmates at the institution with reusable cloth barrier masks to be worn during transportation.
CDCR has suspended transfers of inmates into the Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP), the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP), and the Alternative Custody Program (ACP) until further notice. CDCR has taken this step to limit potential exposure of staff to COVID-19 during inmate transfers to the community. Additionally, as part of this program, incarcerated persons remain under the jurisdiction and responsibility of CDCR, to include providing any required medical attention. Releasing incarcerated persons to these programs could potentially expose them to COVID-19 in the community, which would require their transfer back to an institution for medical care for non-emergent health care needs, increasing risk for potential exposure within our institutions.
Moves to Department of State Hospital beds at Atascadero State Hospital, Coalinga State Hospital, and Patton State Hospital are allowed only for mentally disordered offender (MDO) referrals.
All Interstate Compact Agreement transfers of out-of-state parolees and inmates to California are suspended until further notice.
To mitigate workload when non-essential movement resumes, this cancellation of all non-essential inmate movement impacts movement only; classification committees and review processes will move ahead as normal.
California statute permits the Secretary to authorize temporary community leave for inmates from prison. To reduce risks of COVID-19 to all who work and live in the state prison system and our surrounding communities, there will be no temporary community leave approvals at this time. We will work to make communications available to individuals in these situations.
CDCR has communicated with county sheriffs about changes to the transfer of state prison inmates to county jails for mandated court hearings. Inmates leaving CDCR custody to be housed in a county jail for purposes of attending a court hearing will not be accepted back until intake is resumed. For those inmates held in county jail unable to return to CDCR custody, the Department will reimburse the supervising agency after five days pursuant to Penal Code 4016.5.
Inmates being transported for a same-day court appearance will be allowed to return to the CDCR institution but will be provided a mask and will be screened by health care staff upon return to the institution. The incarcerated population are permitted to keep their allotment of reusable cloth barrier masks produced by CALPIA upon their release after serving their full sentenced as defined by the law, and are encouraged to wear the mask while in the community.
California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) and the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) are working to provide a vaccine for COVID-19. In alignment with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) priority guidelines, vaccination administration started on December 22, 2020 at California Health Care Facility (CHCF). While early vaccination efforts focused on frontline staff and patients in long-term/skilled nursing beds, we have expanded to all institution staff and all incarcerated persons who are over the age of 65 and those at higher risk of complications. We have also expanded vaccination to incarcerated workers who have frequent contact with the rest of the population.
It is our intent to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all CDCR and CCHCS employees and incarcerated individuals. We are prioritizing the initial vaccine distribution in a manner that is consistent with CDPH guidelines.
All CDCR/CCHCS staff and incarcerated individuals will qualify to receive the vaccine by Phase 1C.
Visiting and Communication
CDCR recognizes visiting is an important way to maintain family and community ties. At the same time, our first priority is the health and safety of those who live in and work in our facilities.
CDCR now offers real-time video visiting at all adult institutions as a safe way for incarcerated people to see and speak with their loved ones. Most conservation camps, also known as fire camps, will phase in video visiting in February and March. We have developed a virtual process in cooperation with California Correctional Health Care Services.
Each incarcerated person will have the opportunity for a free 30-minute video visit every 30 days. This includes holiday visits. Visits will take place on weekends and holidays, between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Visitors are encouraged to reference information below on how to schedule visits, use the video system, expectations for virtual visits and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
All institutions follow public health protocols while conducting video visitation, including physical distancing and sanitation of each station following a visit. Further details on the visiting reservation process and visitation rules can be found on CDCR’s visiting page.
On March 11, CDCR made the difficult decision of suspending in-person visiting in an effort to mitigate potential exposure of COVID-19. Based on the recommendation of public health and health care partners, in-person visiting at CDCR institutions remains suspended at this time. Communication via phone, mail, and electronic mail at some institutions, remains available with numerous free phone call days offered to each incarcerated person per month.
See a statement from CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison regarding Visitation programs: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/statement-from-cdcr-secretary-kathleen-allison-on-visiting/
Visiting is temporarily suspended at the Community Prisoner Mother Program (CPMP) in line with recommendations from public health officials and the cessation of visiting at CDCR locations statewide. This includes scheduled off-site visits for children residing at CPMP with their mothers. Family members may continue to drop approved items such as diapers, wipes, baby food and baby snacks (for children under one), during normal visiting hours even during closure. CPMP staff are diligently working to ensure the participants’ needs are met and supplies are readily available with a surplus where needed. They are working closely with community healthcare providers and medical staff at nearby California Institution for Women to keep all required appointments for mothers and children.
In recognition of the need for incarcerated people to have contact with their loved ones, the Division of Adult Institutions has expanded phone access for certain privilege groups. Access will be via current phone equipment, with extra precautions taken to clean phones and allow physical distancing to limit possible exposure and transmittal of illness.
The following populations are allowed to make calls above their privilege group until further notice:
- People in Administrative Segregation for non-disciplinary reasons, designated Privilege Group B, are allowed one phone call per week (previously one per month; Privilege Group A are normally allowed one call per week)
- People on “C”Status are allowed one call every two weeks
- All others in restricted housing are allowed to make one phone call once every two weeks (previously no phone calls permitted)
- Reception Center inmates will be provided one phone call per week (previously one call within first seven days and one per month after)
- Inmates in Psychiatric Inpatient Program settings will be allowed one call per week unless they are prohibited by the Interdisciplinary Treatment Team (with documented clinical justification).
CDCR partnered with inmate telephone network provider GTL each month.
CDCR’s electronic messaging provider for the incarcerated population, JPay, is providing reduced-priced emails to those incarcerated at the pilot institutions and free emails for those who cannot afford it. The five pilot sites that currently have the technology include: High Desert State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, California Institution for Women, Central California Women’s Facility, and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility. At some of these institutions, only certain yards currently have this technology. Details will be provided to the incarcerated population at the institutions.
JPay has also extended inbound email print services to all institutions at a reduced rate. This service enables incarcerated people’s family and friends to use the JPay app to send e-correspondence, which mailroom staff then print and deliver with regular mail. Family and friends purchase stamps for this service. While this will not eliminate physical mail, this process reduces COVID-19 transmission risk. This service is also a cost-effective way for incarcerated people to maintain contact with family and friends, which is especially important while visiting is closed. This service is available at adult prisons and juvenile facilities, and will continue into 2022.
Effective May 4, 2020, the Enterprise Inmate Communication (EIC) program currently piloted at Central California Women’s Facility, California Institution for Women, High Desert State Prison (Facility C), Kern Valley State Prison (Facility C) and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility will be temporarily expanded for those inmates who possess a JPay EIC tablet. Inmates with tablets will be eligible to access, free of charge, the following offers via the kiosk system, (all content will be reviewed prior to being made available):
- Life Skills & Betterment: Up to 30 free videos focusing on teaching and improving life skills to help cope with challenges during and after incarceration.
- Motivational Speeches: Six free audio recordings by Andre Norman, creator of the “Academy of Hope” series
- Entertainment: One free video game per week for four weeks.
- Effective May 12, inmates with tablets may also have unlimited free access to the News Stand application, which delivers daily updated news, for one month.
The youth within the Division of Juvenile Justice already receive free phone calls and have begun using free Skype video calls for visiting.
CDCR recognizes the importance of family and community connections, and the role they play in preparing individuals for their successful release and rehabilitation. CDCR will continue to provide marriages in a safe manner, in keeping with state mandates, and in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. In-person marriage ceremonies may be scheduled and facilitated at adult institutions in Phase 3 of the Roadmap to Reopening. Each institution has its own protocols for marriages; please contact the institution for details.