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'They Were Screaming': Congresswoman Visits COVID-Plagued Terminal Island

SAN PEDRO (CBSLA) - San Pedro Congresswoman Nannette Barragan got a firsthand look Tuesday at the coronavirus-plagued Terminal Island federal prison.

It comes after a series of reports by our investigative reporter David Goldstein who spoke to the congresswoman when she came out.

The congresswoman spent more than an hour inside the prison which has one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks of a federal prison in the nation. Inside she spoke to both the warden and inmates.

"There were men screaming in there. They were asking for help, turn on AC, asking if they could make a call. And when I say asking they were screaming," she said.

Barragan drove into the prison just after 8:30.

As we've reported, 66% of the inmates at Terminal Island have tested positive for COVID-19. The congresswoman said she found cramped barracks and no social distancing.

"I'm very concerned because it's a situation waiting to spread another positive case," she said.

Terminal Island is a low-security prison that was built in 1938. Officials have separated the sick but admit only a handful of inmates have been granted home confinement that's being recommended for low risk inmates nationwide with underlying health conditions.

"Time is of the essence and you see the numbers so low it's causing a big red flag," said Barragan.
Fifteen staff members have also tested positive.

John Kostelnik, the regional union chief, admits there was confusion in the beginning that may have put guards at risk.

"It seemed like every meeting we had things are changing," he said.

Congressional hearings into the coronavirus outbreaks at federal prisons nationwide will be scheduled sometime in the future. The congresswoman believes it should focus first on Terminal Island to determine what went wrong.

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