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A 24-year-old inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc was found unresponsive Sunday morning and pronounced dead soon after by paramedics, officials said. Mamoudou Kaba, from Kansas, was serving a seven-year sentence for bank robbery. He had been in custody since July 10, 2019.
Authorities have not disclosed Kaba’s cause of death or provided any additional details about the incident. Calls to Melissa Arnold, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson, went unanswered.
The Lompoc prison complex remains the site of one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. More than 1,100 staff and inmates have tested positive for the virus, and four inmates have died. Federal officials notably did not say if Kaba’s death was caused by COVID-19. The Santa Barbara County coroner’s office has stated it has no jurisdiction to investigate deaths that occur on the federal property.
Many inmates and their relatives have voiced serious concerns about prison’s response to the outbreak, claiming guards often neglect safety precautions and ignore inmates’ requests for medical help. On May 25, sick inmate Mohamed Yusuf died in his bunk. Other inmates have been admitted to ICUs at local hospitals in the late stages of the disease. The Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Bureau of Prisons for allegedly creating a “medical and humanitarian” crisis at the facility.
At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor. Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.