Newsmakers with JR
What in the Actual Hell is Going On Inside Lompoc Prison? Tyler Hayden on the Secret Pandemic
Pointing to "two systems of justice," California's Kamala Harris assailed the Bureau of Prisons for racially skewed policies this week, at a Senate committee hearing convened to get behind the shroud of secrecy the government has cast over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic at U.S. correctional facilities.
That's the same goal the Indy's Tyler Hayden has aggressively and doggedly pursued for months, in efforts to get answers about what exactly is going on behind the walls of the two federal prison operations in Lompoc, where nearly 1,000 cases have erupted, four of them so far resulting in inmate deaths.
The Lompoc prison story, and the efforts of federal officials to keep it from getting out, have mushroomed into a national scandal, driven in significant measure by Tyler's journalism.
His investigative and enterprise reporting, which has been cited in a federal class action lawsuit against the bureau alleging constitutional "cruel and unusual punishment" violations, in turn has been propelled by information provided by prisoners, who risk retaliation and punishment by contacting him, and by their families, whose inside intelligence has helped him expose details of the dystopian lockdown.
Along the way, he's also shed light on the pressures the situation places on Santa Barbara County, from the appropriation of local hospital beds to community medical staff exposure and the potential spread of the disease in North County via prison employees knowingly or unknowingly infected with the virus.
In a conversation with Newsmakers, Tyler talked about his emotional and sometimes painful communications with families, efforts to use state and federal freedom of information laws to gain access to crucial data and the "incompetence, bad leadership, bad communications and willful obstruction" he's faced in trying to tell a story the federal government doesn't want told.
You can watch our full conversation with Tyler Hayden by clicking below. The podcast version is here.