Credit: Len Wood | Santa Maria Times

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at the U.S. penitentiary in Lompoc has claimed its first life, with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announcing that 66-year-old inmate Oliver M. Boling succumbed to the virus on Friday. 

According to BOP officials, Boling went into respiratory failure at the prison on Sunday, April 5, and was transported to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation. At the hospital, Boling, who had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, tested positive for COVID-19. By April 7, his condition had declined, officials said, and he was placed on a ventilator. On Friday, April 17, he died.

Boling had been in custody at the Lompoc prison since May 7, 2018. He was serving a 71-year sentence for sodomy, assault with a deadly weapon, and armed robery.

As of Friday, April 18, the prison had reported 110 confirmed cases of COVID-19 ― the highest in the country ― with 80 of the cases among inmates and 30 among guards. Across the BOP’s 22 penitentiaries, 21 inmates have died from the virus.

Boling’s death marks the fourth COVID-19 death in Santa Barbara County.

This article was underwritten in part by the Mickey Flacks Journalism Fund for Social Justice, a proud, innovative supporter of local news. To make a contribution go to


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