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The thin bar of soap Joseph Clarino said he and other inmates get at Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail is supposed to last three days. Clarino said he’s lucky if it’s enough for one shower — maybe two if cut in half — and that the shortage extends to other supplies. Some inmates, he said, recently used torn bedsheets when toilet paper ran out.

Across the street at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, Richmond Davis said fellow inmates were cleaning with the same mop they’d used days earlier when a toilet overflowed with sewage.

As concerns over the novel coronavirus grow, conditions inside the nation’s largest jail system have raised alarms among civil rights advocates and inmates, who say social distancing is impossible when more than 100 people are crowded into a dorm and some bunks are three feet apart. Inmates, they said, may go days without the cleaning supplies needed to keep themselves safe.

“This is worse than a cruise ship,” Kristopher Howard, an inmate who has been in jail for almost a year and a half, said in a phone interview from Twin Towers. “Everybody’s on top of each other. … I’m scared. I’m scared for what could happen.”

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