State Fights Valley Fever Order

The state has denounced an order from a court-appointed monitor to transfer thousands of inmates from two Central Valley prisons because of the risk of valley fever.  In papers filed Monday, the state called the order “defective” and the request by plaintiffs to seen enforcement of the order “premature and defective.”

Last week the prison’s monitor, J. Clark Kelso, said over 3,000 inmates at PleasantValley and Avenal state prisons, who are vulnerable to the disease, should be moved to prisons out of the infection zone.

The state has asked U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson to rescind Kelso’s order.

Lawyers for the prison system cite three reasons to reject the move order: the plaintiff prisoners cannot show the state has been deliberately indifferent to the valley Fever, second, state policy has changed to address valley fever and lastly the prisoner plaintiffs’ request for a release order for those in the dangerous prisons fails to comply with the law.

The state became aware of the incidence of valley fever in the state prisons in 2006, but by that time the state had relinquished control of its prison medical system and placed it in the control of the court receiver.

Valley fever is a fungal disease in the soil of the southern San JoaquinValley and part of the Southwest.

A study in 2005 determined that 166 inmates had Valley fever and four cases were fatal.  Kelso has reported that 62 inmates have died in California between 2006 and 2013 from valley fever.

Attorneys for the state asked that Henderson reject the inmate move order and permit experts from the Centers for Disease Control to evaluate the prisons and issue appropriate recommendations.

Case:  Plata v. Brown, No. C01-1352TEH