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Lawsuit Describes Stomach-Churning Conditions at Calif. Prison

Inmate says mice, maggots fell onto table
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 8, 2019 12:12 AM CDT
This photo provided by the Prison Law Office shows a deteriorating roof membrane that creates space for bird feces and bird parts to get under the roof into the ceiling space atop a dining hall.   (Prison Law Office via AP)
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(Newser) – Maggots and mice have fallen onto inmates' dining tables at a California state prison where holes in the roof also allow rain and bird droppings to seep through and streak the walls, according to an inmate lawsuit that charges the state isn't moving fast enough to repair deteriorating prisons. California has committed $260 million over four years to repair leaking roofs and clear dangerous mold at more than two dozen prisons where the cost of overdue maintenance is pegged at more than $1 billion. The lawsuit calls for swifter action and includes examples of the problems in stomach-churning detail, the AP reports. Mice twice fell onto the dining table and scurried into a dishwashing area in April 2018, testified inmate Marvin Dominguez, who eats twice a day in the dining hall at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran. Then a squirmy maggot dropped onto his food tray in October. A guard advised him to sit at a different table, he said.

Inmate Robert Escareno, who filed the California lawsuit, described in court how bird feces paint the dining room wall. He claims the mold and other contaminants aggravate his allergies. State officials don't deny the problem but say they're fixing the roofs as fast as they can. They blame inmates for attracting vermin by tossing food and hiding liquor they make known as "pruno" in the damaged ceiling, which attracts flies. "We all know that prison is not supposed to be comfortable," Escareno told the judge, "but at the same time it's not designed for me to have to go and eat in a place where I'm feet away from what I know to be bird feces."

(Read more prison stories.)

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