SAN QUENTIN (KPIX 5) – More than a thousand inmates at San Quentin have tested positive for the coronavirus and health experts have warned the outbreak is quickly growing out-of-control.

In a chilling, firsthand account of what it’s like inside the prison sometimes referred to as “The Q,” an inmate who was released last week says the prison conditions are filthy and contaminated with germs. He told KPIX 5 something needs to be done before everyone inside is exposed to COVID-19.

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The inmate who goes by the name “Sam” said he made a promise to himself that once he was out free, he would expose the unsafe living conditions inside the prison.

“It’s so filthy and contaminated and ridden germs,” he says. “They are not sweeping the tiers. They are not mopping the tiers or cleaning the handrails and they are not wiping off the door handles. They are just being lazy and giving us the bare minimum.”

He says it’s not a matter of if inmates get exposed, it’s when.

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“We were given a cloth mask and a quarter bottle of hand sanitizer in March and we were told our masks would be laundered daily. They have never been laundered once,” he said.

Steph Lieb is with the San Francisco Public Defenders Office and says they are filing emergency petitions to get 60 inmates out.

“We are acting with all deliberate speed because the conditions in there are horrible,” says Lieb.

But before they try to release inmates a plan must be in place.

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“They will not get released without housing. The sentencing judge will not release our clients without a plan in place,” says Lieb. “That’s part of our job to ensure sure we match them with the resources.”

Juliette Goodrich