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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Prison guards want ability to transfer to avoid valley fever

The Bakersfield CalifornianThe union that represents state prison correctional officers said Friday that it asked the state months ago to make it easier for members at high-risk of contracting valley fever to transfer to other facilities -- and never heard back.

The statement came a day after federal health officials released a report saying that at Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons, three employees have died of and 103 have been sickened by valley fever over the last four years.

The threat of valley fever to employees at Avenal in Kings County and Pleasant Valley in Fresno County has been a "big concern" to the California Correctional Peace Officers Association for a while, said spokesman Jevaughn Baker.

Baker on Friday forwarded to The Californian a letter the union sent the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in July asking that employees at high risk of contracting valley fever be free to transfer to other facilities.

The state has frozen employee transfers between prisons in an effort to make sure all facilities are adequately staffed.

CCPOA has been concerned since the state was ordered to move about 2,600 inmates at risk of contracting valley fever out of Avenal and Pleasant Valley, Baker said.

The order mostly applied to black or Filipino inmates, who are more susceptible to the disease. The letter also expressed concern that transferring large numbers of black and Asian-American inmates away from Avenal and Pleasant Valley would lead to "increased racial tensions and gang-related discord" at both the receiving and sending prisons by boosting racial segregation.

"We never received a response," Baker said.

Asked about the letter, a department official said the state is still composing its answer. continue reading...

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