San Quentin Refusing New Inmates

Flu fears slam cell doors shut

San Quentin State Prison will stop accepting inmates from 19 Northern California counties Wednesday because of swine flu fears, corrections officials said Tuesday.

Nearly half the 5,200 inmates in the prison north of San Francisco are being quarantined. Luis Patino, a spokesman for the federal receiver who oversees prison medical care, said tests show four inmates likely have the H1N1 virus, and 47 inmates are showing symptoms.

Inmates aren't being shipped to other prisons for fear they could spread the pandemic flu. That means there's no room for the roughly 250 new inmates who would normally be shipped in from county jails each week.

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said the department is arranging with counties to bring incoming inmates to other prisons for processing as early as Wednesday.

He said San Quentin will soon be able to accept some new inmates as others are paroled. About 105 inmates each week are normally paroled from San Quentin.

"No one's getting early release, nothing like that," Hidalgo said. He said the department has routinely faced similar problems with other contagious diseases.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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