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Santa Barbara- S County

Inmate concerns rise as second inmate from Federal complex in Lompoc dies of COVID-19

Succes Story program members
Deirdre Smith

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- Inmate Jimmie Lee Houston, 75, became the second inmate from the Federal Bureau of Prisons complex in Lompoc to die of COVID19.

He had been taken to the hospital last month, the same month inmate Oliver M. Boling, 66, died from COVID19.

Wednesday's death brings the total in Santa Barbara County to 10.

Public Health leaders did not know about the death during Wednesday's update when they announced 65 new cases at the Lompoc location that includes a minimum security facility next to the United State's Penitentiary.

Houston had been housed at the Satellite Prison Camp where he was serving a 10-year sentence for drug and weapons charges out of Alaska.

A hospital has been set up at the correctional site.

Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said a small percentage of inmates are experiencing acute or chronic illness.

"A majority are not feeling symptoms of COVID19."

Abe Powell, the co-founder of the Santa Barbara Bucked Brigade, was invited to the update.

The brigade recently donated 1100 masks to inmates at the Santa Barbara County Jail.

He knows what it is like to recover after a disaster.

Powell led the the way after the Montecito Mudslide that killed 23 men, women and children.

Powell said his mother's sewing skills inspired him to invite the community and county inmates to get involved in making masks.

"I realized she can sew really well, and we realized that by bringing in people who are isolated and feel like they have nothing to contribute and by bringing them in and giving them a way to help that connects them to the whole community of helpers, and to our cooperative mission of helping us fight COVID together."

Inmate Services Manager Deirdre Smith said 17 people incarcerated at the county jail are cutting the material.

They are part the Success Stories treatment program.

"They have been working tirelessly in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade to help cut materials and get things ready to go so that community members with access to sewing machines can get those masks ready to make."

Smith said donations of material and money will help them do even more.

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.