According to TMZ, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva claimed that around two dozen inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center attempted to contract COVID-19 on purpose in April. Villanueva says that the department saw a spike in coronavirus cases. Upon investigation, they found that several people in one cellblock had been purposely trying to infect each other.
Surveillance footage shows the inmates passing around one cup of hot water as well as sharing the same mask. They were also standing close together in the common area. Per Villanueva, the inmates' motives were to be sent home after getting empathy from a judge for having the illness.
"There was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive, there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment, and that’s not gonna happen," Villanueva said per the local CBS-affiliate.
Their plan ended up working. Out of the 50 inmates in the cellblock, 21 reportedly caught COVID-19. Yet after footage of their antics were obtained, Villanueva is certain that they won't get to go home any sooner.
"There’s a reason why these people are behind bars to begin with, because they violated the norms of society," he continued. "But to then imperil not only their only safety, but the safety of their fellow inmates who did not want to participate in this behavior. It also endangers all the personnel, both the professional staff and the sworn staff."