Criswell et al v. Boudreaux (Criminal Justice and COVID-19)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tulare County Sheriff Michael Boudreaux launched a public campaign to encourage people to be “good neighbors” and wear masks to help stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Yet while the sheriff extols the virtues of mask-wearing for the general public, he has not only refused to provide face coverings to those incarcerated in his jails, he has prohibited their use – demonstrating a gross indifference to prisoners’ health and safety.
On July 29, 2020, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP filed a class action lawsuit to compel Tulare County to take immediate precautions to prevent a severe spread of COVID-19 that would expose approximately 1,900 incarcerated people to serious illness or death.
The lawsuit calls for the sheriff to release as many medically vulnerable people as possible to home confinement. It further asks the court to appoint an independent monitor to make recommendations for releases so that remaining prisoners can remain at least six feet apart from others, among other safety measures recommended by public health officials.