How LA County’s Largest Women’s Facility Is Successfully Combating COVID-19 In the Jailhttps://lasd.org/wp-content/themes/blade/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150SIB StaffSIB Staffhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/1da259cd08f53aa175642133a3231d68?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Century Regional Detention Facility is the largest women’s jail facility in Los Angeles County and has been able to keep the exposure of the COVID-19 virus to both inmates and staff to just below double digits. How are we able to do this? Watch the video below as CRDF Captain Angela Walton and Assistant Director Dr. Melissa Kelley explain to Spectrum News 1 the precautions and protocols they are taking daily to keep the inmates and staff safe, and the COVID-19 virus out of the jail. #COVID-19
As we continue working together through the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department staff continue striving to keep the public informed through weekly press conferences, and regularly updating statistics and data on our website, found at https://lasd.org/covid19updates/.
During his weekly virtual press conference on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, livestreamed from the Sherman Block Building, Sheriff Alex Villanueva thanked Los Angeles County residents for their efforts to help protect our personnel from potential COVID-19 exposure. Because of the nature of law enforcement, there is always a risk of coming in contact with someone who is infected. Advising desk staff during requests for service if anyone at the location is ill or displaying signs of the virus, filing applicable reports online, and wearing personal protective equipment gives deputies the opportunity to be aware of the circumstances, and helps keep them from becoming ill or transferring sickness to others.
Since inception of the current health crisis, a total of 1,697 personnel were affected by COVID-19, of whom 1,152 were sworn and 545 were civilian staff; there were 189 cases of personnel who tested positive for the virus, of whom 138 were sworn and 51 were civilian staff. Currently, there are 585 personnel quarantined, of whom 433 are sworn and 152 are civilian staff; there are 51 employees identified as high-risk, of whom 14 are sworn and 37 are civilian staff. On the positive side, there were 1,049 employees returned to work, 694 of them sworn and 355 civilian personnel.
The Sheriff pointed out the numbers average one employee quarantined out of every 18, some of them being quarantined twice because of the large and constant risk of exposure in the patrol and custody environments. He praised their work and willingness to return, despite the risks. “We have this issue,” said the Sheriff, “that we’re going to be continually exposed to the COVID-19 virus, but that doesn’t mean the job stops. We are going to continue working.”
Sworn, civilian and medical staff worked diligently to keep a lid on COVID-19 inside our jail facilities. Correctional Health Services medical staff and/or Department of Public Health employees hold the authority to designate an isolation of an inmate or quarantine of a housing area. There are 5,145 inmates currently quarantined, 252 current inmates who tested positive, and 337 inmates isolated.
Overall, violent crimes are down by 7%, as compared to the same time last year; criminal homicides are up by 7% and rape reporting dropped 30%. Property crimes fell by 7%, and, since Sunday, March 29, 2020, there were four COVID-19 arrests made and 73 citations issued.
Yesterday, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, Sheriff Villanueva testified on the introduction of Assembly Bill 2655, known as AB-2655 for short, and the amendment of California Penal Code 1524, or 1524 P.C. The passing of AB-2655 would create new penal code section 647.9, which would make it misdemeanor-level crime for first responders to capture the image of a deceased person or portion of their body for any purpose, other than official law enforcement business or the welfare of the general public, by means such as a camera or mobile phone. Whether the device is their personal equipment or it belongs to their employing agency, using it to capture the images with the intent to invade the person’s privacy, would be punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000 per violation, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or both.
The already-existing 1524 P.C. would be amended to reflect authorization of a search warrant to be issued when the property or things to be seized consist of evidence which tend to show a violation of 647.9 P.C. occurred or is occurring.
Lastly, Sheriff Villanueva introduced Mr. Alexander Algar and presented him with the Department’s prestigious and well-deserved Humanitarian Award. It was on Friday, May 1, 2020, that Alexander helped foil the kidnapping of a six-year-old boy in a Westlake Village Park. Instead of deciding a situation was not his business or waiting for someone else to do something, Alexander took action when two total strangers needed help right away.
The hero was enjoying an afternoon in the park when he heard the sound of voices arguing, and saw a man chase a woman and a little boy. From hearing the yelling and seeing their demeanor, Alexander sensed it was a sinister situation. The suspect wrenched the little boy out of his mother’s grasp, tucked him under his arm, and walked about 100 feet away with him. The desperate woman fought against the kidnapper and struggled to get her boy back. Neighborhood residents yelled for the suspect to let go, but it was Alexander who caused the boy’s release. Despite the danger to his own safety, Alexander went to the defense of the woman and the little one. He ran after the fleeing suspect and engaged him in a physical confrontation, in an attempt to gain control of the young victim. The suspect released the boy and walked away; the neighborhood residents surrounded and detained him until Malibu/Lost Hills Station deputies arrived. Because of Alexander’s actions, as well as the concerned neighbors, a very thankful woman got to take her son home that day. Thank you for what you did together to keep our communities safe and safeguard our children!
View this story and watch the press conference below:
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.
Custody is a particularly unique environment in which to take these kinds of measures. Nevertheless, with a lot of consideration, new protocols, and collaboration with medical staff, we got it done. On Monday, May 11, 2020, during one of his virtual weekly press conferences conducted at the Sherman Block Building in Monterey Park, Sheriff Alex Villanueva outlined measures used to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our jail system.
Unfortunately, through video surveillance, it was determined a group of inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center-North County Correctional Facility deliberately attempted to infect themselves with COVID-19. Multiple men were seen sipping from a single bottle of hot water for two reasons: To falsely elevate their oral temperature moments before having their temperature taken by a nurse, and to spread the potential of infection. The bottle and a secondary cup of hot water were passed among the men inside of a day room, which is a common area next to a housing area with beds, akin to the living room of a house or apartment. There was plenty of space in which to observe physical distancing, however, the men chose to interact close to each other, making their intentions obvious.
As a direct result of the behavior seen in the video, 21 men tested positive for COVID-19 within a week. A gross misunderstanding among the inmate population led many to believe that those diagnosed with COVID-19 may be released, which is untrue. Current numbers show there were a total of 4,590 inmates quarantined within the Los Angeles County jail system, 317 were isolated. Since the pandemic, we had a total of 222 positives inside the jail, 117 inmates recovered and 18 inmates released from custody after testing positive for COVID-19, but prior to meeting CDC standards for being considered fully recovered.
The Sheriff did everything possible to protect those entrusted to the care of the Department through modifying bail and booking dollar amounts, reducing our inmate population by more than 5,000 bodies, ordering COVID-19 screening at booking areas, having both staff and inmates educated about the dangers and preventative practices, directed custody personnel to implement and conduct quarantine and isolation measures, making personal protective equipment available to everyone inside our facilities, and, on Sunday, May 3, 2020, enacting a new procedure for the testing of COVID-19 for all inmates entering the jail system. So far, 682 were tested, of which 16 met with positive results. “We’ve done everything within our power to reduce or prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our jail system,” said Sheriff Villanueva.
In addition, there were 320 LASD personnel quarantined, in total, comprised of 227 sworn and 93 professional staff throughout the Department. Of those quarantined, 107 tested positive; 71 of them sworn and 36 of them professional staff. Fortunately, 927 employees returned to work, 612 of them sworn, and 315 of them professional staff.
The Sheriff outlined the decline of violent crimes, in general, by nine percent, with criminal homicides rising seven percent and rape reporting down by 29%. Property crime reduced by seven percent, and since Sunday, March 29, 2020, there were four COVID-19-related arrests and 65 citations.
Innovation and Fiscal Responsibility, in the Face of COVID-19https://lasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Post_Innovation_Sheriff_Conference_042720.jpg900643SIB StaffSIB Staffhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d17acab79bb8806a81f70b6402a24315?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Innovation and Fiscal Responsibility, in the Face of COVID-19
During a virtual press conference given Monday, April 27, 2020, Sheriff Alex Villanueva was joined by Dr. Christina Ghaly, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Service; Chief Daryl Osby, Los Angeles County Fire Department; Captain Chris Kovac, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department-Custody Support Services; and Director Wesley Grose, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department-Scientific Services Bureau.
The event was held at the COVID-19 Regional Decontamination Center, located at the first Los Angeles County custody facility built in 1963 specifically for women and named for philanthropist and women’s rights advocate, Sybil Brand. The Sybil Brand Institute, located in East Los Angeles, was innovative for its time and continues to be so, in contemporary times, as well.
Sheriff Villanueva began the conference with a reminder to continue practicing physical distancing protocols, then outlined the reflection of lowered percentages in crime statistics calculated during the COVID-19 quarantine, as compared to last year.
Because medical and public safety personnel often find themselves in positions and situations with a greater potential for exposure to COVID-19, Sheriff Villanueva collaborated with some of our county partners to create a decontamination center, from which they spoke. Captain Kovac recognized the need for such a place, in light of a world shortage of N95 masks and gowns, and counterfeit products. He questioned if it were possible to sanitize and reuse the personal protective equipment we already have. Research identified a process called Hydrogen Peroxide Vaporization, which could make cleaning and reuse of the equipment possible, and extend the life of our inventory, as well as our budget. “Innovation and fiscal responsibility,” said the Sheriff, is what we must practice.
The four-step cleaning process is conducted inside of a decontamination chamber the size of a small dishwasher. It dispenses a mist of vaporized hydrogen peroxide over the masks, eliminating 99.9% of all pathogens within a few hours, without removing any of its protective properties. A system of conditioning, gassing, dwell time, and aeration give new life to used personal protective equipment, with water and oxygen as its only byproducts.
The process was vetted by numerous studies, cited by the Centers for Disease Control, and is in motion within Los Angeles County now. It will take place around the clock and is expected to sanitize more than 30,000 masks per day. The LASD will manage the program with our stakeholders and county partners, allowing front line workers across the board to reuse the same N95 mask up to 20 times.
With prices for N95 masks fluctuating between $3.75 and $12.74 per piece, the economic impact of extending the value and life of our equipment, as opposed to additional purchasing, will certainly benefit all county agencies across the board, and ultimately save tens of millions of dollars. Decontamination costs pennies on the dollar, as opposed to the cost of continuously replenishing stock. For example, the cost of 250,000 masks at $3.75 per piece is $937,000; a $50,000 cost of putting them through 20 decontamination cycles makes their adjusted total purchase cost $987,5000. In an estimation of five million masks needed to get us through the pandemic, the savings on decontamination versus purchasing five million more new pieces would lead to a $17,762,000 savings. If the five million pieces went through 50 decontamination cycles, this would lead to a staggering $18,325,000 in savings.
The equipment used in the cleaning process was generously provided by the University of California-Los Angeles. Their dedication to helping others was articulated in a statement: “Just as others have supported UCLA’s front-line health care workers, UCLA is pleased to support the Sheriff’s Department in its important effort to establish a decontamination center for N95 masks used by first responders. UCLA is honored to make available hydrogen peroxide fogging equipment used to clean many of our research labs now idled for safety reasons because of the pandemic. We are all in this together, helping our community in a time of need. #TeamLA”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, “Our medical and public safety personnel place themselves in positions where the potential for catching COVID-19 is greater. It is our role as public safety leaders to do everything we can to provide our personnel with the equipment they need to do their jobs. This center will decontaminate masks around the clock. It is our expectation the center will decontaminate over 30,000 masks per day, ensuring first responders have access to what they need to protect others.”
The Sheriff also addressed the decrease of crime in the county. Violent crimes in general are down by 11%, criminal homicide by 24%, rape reporting by 33%, property crime by 9%, as well as calls for service. There were three COVID -19-related arrests and 41 citations issued since Sunday, March 29, 2020.
Personnel, of course, are also part of the communities we serve and reflect the numbers of those physically affected by the COVID-19 crisis. There were 167 sworn and 83 professional staff quarantined, 61 of whom tested positive for the affliction, and 754 who returned to work.
The inmate population is vulnerable to the daily movement and fluctuations within it, and it is under constant, protective supervision to preserve balance. The quarantine of inmates is still taking place, always on the side of caution. Whenever someone is identified as displaying symptoms, the entire dormitory is quarantined. This may cause numbers to fluctuate, however, it is conducted simply as a preventative measure. So far, 2,563 inmates were quarantined and 71 were isolated to prevent the perpetuation of disease further, among both population and staff. Of the 123 who tested positive, 31 are fully recovered.
In case you did not know, you can file a police report through our website. The Sheriff’s Online Report Tracking System (SORTS) allows you to file a specific type of crime or incident report.
Once your report is reviewed and accepted, you will receive a free copy of the approved report via email for your records. All cases filed within this system will be reviewed.
If you are a victim of any of these incidents, you can file a police report using SORTS:
Lost or stolen cell phones valued $950 or less
Lost or stolen property valued $950 or less
Vandalism, excluding graffiti, where damage is valued under $400
Theft from an unlocked vehicle valued $950 or less
Theft from an open or unsecured area valued $950 or less
Supplemental Loss Form (Must already have a LASD report number)
Department policy will dictate the level of investigation needed for the incident you report to us. A Deputy Sheriff may need to follow-up by email, telephone, or in person, if the incident requires further investigation.
LASD HOST Hand out ppe to homeless communityhttps://lasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/IMG_0751.jpg750413SIB StaffSIB Staffhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d17acab79bb8806a81f70b6402a24315?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Today, Leading by Lt. Deedrick, #LASD Homeless Outreach Service Team and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority visited the homeless community in the San Gabriel Valley area to hand out PPE and hygiene kits.
Lt. Deedrick stated that we will educate everyone we encounter the seriousness of the COVID19 virus and how we could do to prevent from getting it. Part of our role, as deputies, is to model compassion and caring for the community. We will make every effort to slow down the spread of the virus.
LASD wants to thank the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles for the donation of the masks.
Internet Safety for CHILDRENhttps://lasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Child-Internet-Safety-II-1024x556.jpg1024556SIB StaffSIB Staffhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/bae887d65e5fdee96dc39d99a864e9fd?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Since the beginning of March 2020, child exploitation CyberTips reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) have increased nationwide. NCMEC reports they have experienced a 106% increase in CyberTipline reports, from 983,734 reports in March 2019 to 2,027,520 in March 2020.
Although this significant increase can be attributed in part to a few viral videos being shared and reported in March, this does bring up an opportunity to talk to your children about internet safety, and proper reporting of these crimes if seen.
As part of Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department receives CyberTips from NCMEC and investigates them, along with the Los Angeles Police Department and our multiple local and federal law enforcement partners. If you are on the internet and see a child being exploited online, please don’t share the video out of outrage, report it to your local law enforcement agency, or NCMEC by visiting https://report.cybertip.org/.
With recent school closures due to #COVID19, many children are using the internet from home and have recently created email accounts or social media profiles to communicate with their friends or to complete school work and education programs. If not properly supervised, this leaves children vulnerable to social engineering scams, and potentially being conned into revealing sensitive information about themselves and family, or even sharing compromising photographs of themselves.
We at the LASD are encouraging parents of children of any age to discuss internet safety with your child. Any time is the right time to make sure your children are safe. Below are some recommended tips you can follow to protect your child from becoming a victim.
-TALK about Internet safety with children of ALL ages before they engage in online activity. Keep in mind there are several ways other than the family computer for children to access the internet, such as smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems.
-Review & approve games and apps before they are downloaded… especially applications that require access to your photos, videos, voice, and have messaging capabilities.
-Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices. You can use parental controls or manually scan your child’s device as needed.
-Monitor your children’s use of the internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house. Contact your Internet Service Provider to learn how to enable parental controls or use downloadable software or apps.
-Check your children’s social media profiles and see what personal information they are sharing publicly. Make sure they are not posting their age, address, phone numbers, or any other personal information.
-Explain to your children that images AKA selfies posted online will remain permanently on the internet and never share an image they don’t want the whole world to see.
-Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult and law enforcement.
-Remember that victims should not be afraid to tell law enforcement if they are being sexually exploited. It is not a crime for a child to send sexually explicit images to someone if they are compelled or coerced to do so.
For additional information, visit the links listed below to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website, which has published several educational tools to help educate parents and children against child predators. Go to the “Education” drop-down menu to access training videos regarding online enticement, smartphones, and social media.
Volunteers produce masks for inmateshttps://lasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/post_covid19_volunteers.jpg846468SIB StaffSIB Staffhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d17acab79bb8806a81f70b6402a24315?s=96&d=mm&r=g
VOLUNTEERS FROM THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST LATTER-DAY SAINTS PRODUCE MASKS FOR INMATES
Volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped with the production and making of masks for LASD employees and inmates.
When Commander Diana Gealta from the Custody Division asked her church members for help sewing enough masks to supply all of the LASD employees inside the jails and all of the inmates, they did not hesitate and went to work! The original goal was about 2,000 but the volunteers went above the call for help and in just over a week were able to produce over 7,000 cloth masks! These extra cloth masks will support operations and many inmates will be able to go home with at least one mask!
“I feel as if through this project, our heavenly Father is showing that he loves us and shows us we are all his children,” were the words of one of the dozens of volunteers from the Women’s Relief Society members from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints.
SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA PROVIDES UPDATES ON COVID-19 PANDEMIChttps://lasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/024-020-039-1024x683.jpg1024683SIB StaffSIB Staffhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/1da259cd08f53aa175642133a3231d68?s=96&d=mm&r=g
SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA PROVIDES UPDATES ON THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
On Monday, April 20, 2020, Sheriff Alex Villanueva started his weekly press briefing by offering his condolences to those that have been affected by the COVID-19 virus. He shared that his own niece is in quarantine as a result of exposure to the virus and the department has now two Custody Assistants in the ICU on ventilators. Over 600 people have now lost their lives in Los Angeles County and the Sheriff stressed the importance of physical distance, hand washing, and wearing a face covering to help during this fight.
Sheriff Villanueva expressed his gratitude to the public safety personnel, medical professionals, grocery workers, transportation professionals, and those performing jobs which are vital during this difficult time. He proceeded to share the latest crime statistics and compared to last year, violent crimes are down by 10%; homicide is down by 21%; rape is down by 29% and property crime is down by over 11%. There has been one COVID-19 related arrest and 30 citations issued since the Governor mandated the stay at home order on March 29, 2020. Sadly, domestic violence-related calls have increased. Last year during this time, there were 863 calls and this year, the number has gone up to 933. Sheriff Villanueva urged the public to call 911 if they see or hear indications of domestic violence.
Villanueva moved on to speak about COVID-19 statistics in the department. A total of 307 sworn and professional staff are on quarantine; 51 have tested positive; and 543 are back to work. A total of 1,724 inmates are quarantined; 64 are in isolation; 26 have tested positive and 7 have fully recovered and are back with the inmate population. Sheriff Villanueva noted that now two negative testes are required in order to protect employees as well as inmates.
The next topic on the agenda was budget. The Sheriff made it known that despite tragic events such as the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash and the Saugus High School shooting, the department estimates that this fiscal year, it will spend $11 million dollars less than last year in overtime. He announced that several months ago, a portion of the LASD budget was frozen and those funds are needed in order to continue operating properly and without compromising the safety of the community. He gave several examples of why the release of funds is imperative. He shared that there is a fleet of approximately 300 new patrol cars parked and collecting dust and they need to be equipped with computers and emergency equipment. The COVID-9 pandemic has resulted in an increased in expenses such as more cleaning and hygiene supplies for jails, which was not previously budgeted for. Other essential supplies that will be affected are rape kits, which are an absolute necessity to protect one of the most vulnerable of all, victims of sexual assault. The process for gathering evidence and submitting DNA to a lab requires supplies and those supplies are low so the need is critical.
Other police agencies within Los Angeles County contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to help provide services to the residents that they serve, such as testing DNA and rape kits in a laboratory, or using one of the few rescue helicopters that are operational to save lives of stranded citizens in the mountains or sea. Sheriff Villanueva shared the importance and the high cost of operating rescue helicopters which are used to save lives of hikers and nature lovers that get stranded or injured. He emphasized that access to these funds would allow the department to continue providing the basic necessary safety services for the community we serve and operational needs for the department.
Inmates Use Pedal Power to Slow the Spread of COVID-19https://lasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/post_CRDF_Inmates_Masks_041520_2.jpg774396SIB StaffSIB Staffhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/1da259cd08f53aa175642133a3231d68?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Inmates Use Pedal Power to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
When COVID-19 entered the picture, immediate consideration was taken for our vulnerable custody environment, which holds not just our inmate population, but thousands of sworn and civilian personnel, and medical staff. With roughly 17,000 inmates cycling through seven custody facilities and thousands of employees interacting with them, immediate action was necessary to protect the health of all.
Custody Assistant Sue Tupper is the sewing instructor who oversees the Century Regional Detention Center (CRDF) sewing program. She teaches interested females housed there to imagine, cut and follow sewing patterns, and create things which are not just useful, but detailed, functional and pretty. Officer Tupper explains the differences between the English and metric measuring systems, defines various sewing terms, demonstrates the use of different applications, and outlines the different kinds of sewing machines and their capabilities.
Deputy Christine Badaracco, assigned to North County Correctional Facility (NCCF), oversees the male inmates in the sewing shop where they produce all the inmate uniforms for the Department. They have one sewing instructor and more than 280 sewing machines. The men sew clothes but also mend various Department assets to keep them in good shape and extend their use, and create new pieces of equipment, like holster bags. Some of the more experienced men learn upholstery and other specialty work, which can be useful and even lucrative on the outside, such as custom items, custom-covered furniture, boat canopies, and car covers. Their goal is to teach the inmates a valuable vocation as a skill for life, so they can find work on the outside, make money to support themselves and, hopefully, not return to jail.
When COVID-19 began to affect the jail system, Deputy Badaracco and Officer Tupper took the health crisis as an opportunity to do something good with benefits, which came two-fold. On Friday, March 27, 2020, Officer Tupper crafted a prototype fabric face mask and taught inmates how to sew them, too. That day, they made 33 of them. In a short time, the creations increased in numbers, and became helpful precautions against spreading the virus through droplets from sneezes, coughs and everyday speech. Employees and inmates who wear them are slowing the spread, and inmate-students who made them learned a new and beneficial project.
The masks were initially created for CRDF inmate workers with assignments as trustees and kitchen workers. Now, the majority of women there have a mask, with the goal of providing each inmate within our jail system with at least two masks. When an inmate is released, they may keep their mask, to encourage them to practice personal safety measures. So far, the women created more than 1,200 masks and continue to produce them, cranking out an impressive 100 pieces in an eight-hour shift!
An average of ten females are assisting Officer Tupper in the production, alongside a half-dozen staff who help speed production by preparing the material and cutting it into patterns. Whether inmate or employee, everyone involved in the mask project sees this as a basic human need and takes great pride in participating. The project grew so much in popularity, inmates are waiting to be selected to help!
Officer Tupper puts her heart into her work and teaches with an earnest desire to see her pupils’ success. “You put your best foot forward so that, if even one person makes it, it was worth it,” she said.
The CRDF sewing shop has five industrial sewing machines and ten domestic machines, which were donated. The material also comes from donations or from scraps from the North County Correctional Facility (NCCF) sewing shop, where they produce the inmate uniforms. Since Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the CRDF mask-producing enterprise was in conjunction with male inmates at NCCF.
Deputy Christine Badaracco and vocation instructors at NCCF have trained 15 inmates to put the pattern pieces together and sew them into a complete product. With a staff of five, they work side-by-side with inmates in a fluid production line: Cut material into squares, fold three pleats and baste, heat-press the pleats, sew the edges with bias tape to create tie-strings, snip to separate, and box them up. Because there is no elastic in the masks and they don’t stretch, they are crafted into two different sizes to accommodate large and small faces. The favored material at that facility for making masks is the brown material used to sew clothes for inmates housed in the medical ward because it is softer. So far, they made more than 3,000 and are making more every day. The men, who normally sew clothing, enjoy the change of pace in making something different, and like the sense that they are contributing to others’ health and wellness.
Personnel assigned to Custody Division were given N95 masks and are using them if they do not have a surgical, dust or fabric masks. The hand-crafted masks will be made available to staff, as well, but not until all inmates have a mask or have access to one.
Before the mask movement, male inmates in the NCCF sewing shop learned their sewing skills on the heavier-duty material to keep the jail population clothed. Female inmates in the CDRF sewing shop used the heavier-duty material from the inmate uniforms to create tote-bags for wheelchairs, walkers and crutches. More delicate material was used to make quilts and stuffed toys; the tote-bags, quilts and toys were donated to a variety of outlets, including children participating in the 999 for Kids program and the Special Olympics.
As each facility is unique, so may be their circumstances. Although there are 75 inmate-students at NCCF, no more will be trained to sew masks, as staff wish to avoid compromising the others from becoming ill or infected. For now, though, we press forward together for the wellness and betterment of all, and hope for a quick ending to the COVID-19 pandemic.