A balloon release will be held Sunday as part of an effort by advocacy groups and family members to raise awareness of the several COVID-19 outbreaks that have occurred inside the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex.
Participants will meet at 12:15 p.m. at Ryon Memorial Park, 800 W. Ocean Ave., Lompoc.
Biodegradable balloons will be released, according to local media reports.
Love Your Inmate, a coalition providing services and support for inmates and their family members, is collaborating with the Lompoc Prison Task Force, a Santa Barbara County working group of the Latinx and Indigenous Migrant COVID-19 Response Task Force, and representatives from U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal’s office and local clergy.
“The event is a reminder to those incarcerated at the Lompoc Federal Prison that they are not forgotten and to recognize those seven lives lost due to COVID-19,” Chrissie Rogers, a spokeswoman for Love Your Inmate, told the News-Press.
In 2020, more than 1,200 inmates got COVID-19 as a result of the outbreak, and there were five COVID-related inmate deaths. The other two are under investigation.
The outbreak resulted in a federal class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which alleged that certain employees of the prison complex mishandled the COVID-19 outbreak response.
“We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the state shutdown, and we are still fighting for their Eighth Amendment rights,” Ms. Rogers said. “We are still no closer today then we were a year ago with releases of those who qualify but continue to fight and be their voice.”
Speakers from the community will offer messages at 12:45 p.m., and the balloon release will take place at 1.