About the series
More than 240 people incarcerated in California prisons have died during the pandemic from COVID-19, including 18 at the only state prison in San Diego County.
inewsource investigative reporters Jill Castellano and Mary Plummer used medical examiner reports, death certificates and interviews to uncover what led to the deaths at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa. Three of those who died were found in their cells. Families of Donovan prisoners told inewsource they didn’t learn their relatives had COVID-19 until after they had died.
Read the two-part investigation
More than 1,000 prisoners at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
At least five inmates who died of COVID-19 at Donovan state prison passed before their families were informed of them being ill.
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The claim by the family of Leon Martinez is the only one known to have been filed over a COVID-19 death at the Donovan state prison in Otay Mesa. Martinez was 48 and the youngest of 18 Donovan inmates to die from the virus during a winter outbreak at the prison.
Prison medical staff are asking Donovan inmates who decline COVID-19 testing to sign a form waiving the prison of any responsibility for their illness or death. An agency spokesperson said it’s a standard form but wouldn’t say if other California prisons are using it for COVID-19.
Families are battling confusing and conflicting info from corrections officials about a new COVID-19 outbreak at Donovan state prison.
Learn about gaps in medical care, communication breakdowns and other findings from our latest investigation into Donovan state prison.
While nearly a quarter of county corrections staff have been vaccinated, less than 1% of inmates have received doses.
Across Southern California, we found data mismatches and mistakes regarding how many incarcerated people have died from COVID-19.