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Community members protest on behalf of inmates at Lompoc Federal Prison amid COVID-19 outbreak

lompoc prison protest sign
Blake DeVine / NC3
Last year, community members united to form a protest expressing their concern for safety at the Lompoc Federal Prison.
lompoc prison protest
Blake DeVine / KEYT

LOMPOC, Calif. — Community members united to form a protest expressing their concern for safety at the Lompoc Federal Prison. 

At least 956 inmates within the Federal Correctional Complex in Lompoc have tested positive according to the County. The Bureau of Prisons reports 1,090 cases. Two inmates have died from the disease.

The Bureau of Prison's numbers and the County's numbers currently reflect differently due to a discrepancy in reporting times.

FCI Lompoc is currently the most contaminated federal prison in the United States. 

Despite these alarming numbers, family members of those incarcerated have had limited communication with their loved ones.

“We had to wait almost three weeks to get a five minute phone call to my sister-in-law from my brother,” protestor Vivian Espinosa said. “Only to tell us he’s COVID positive.”

“We got five minutes and that is all after one month,” protest organizer Estephanie Fuentes said. “We’ve been waiting for calls or updates to see if they’re okay.”

Protesters are skeptical if the prison has sufficient equipment to adequately assist with attacking the virus and help eliminate exposure to inmates. 

“Regardless of the crime they’ve committed, they are still humans,” Fuentes said.

“No phone calls, no emails, no communication,” Espinosa said. “We don’t know how our loved ones are doing.”

Protesters repeatedly chanted "yo soy tu voz" throughout the public demonstration. In English this means ‘I am your voice.’

“Together our voice is loud for them,” Fuentes said. “They don’t have a voice right now.”

The group hopes to spark change to protect their loved ones.

“We are trying to get the CARE Act in effect,” Espinosa said. “Get nonviolent prisoners out, especially my brother.”

“Together united we create a very loud voice and we create change,” Fuentes concluded.

Many of the protestors plan on self-quarantining for two weeks following today’s demonstration. 

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.


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