The head of California's prison system says a court order to evacuate thousands of inmates from two Central Valley lockups hit hard by an infectious disease could lead to racial conflicts elsewhere.
Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard said Tuesday that officials had been awaiting the results of a U.S. Centers for Disease Control study on the outbreak before deciding how to respond.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson decided not to wait and ordered as many as 3,250 inmates evacuated within 90 days.
Evacuees will include most black, Filipino and medically at-risk inmates because they are considered the most vulnerable to health problems from the fungus, commonly called valley fever.
Beard told The Associated Press that moving those inmates to other prisons could upset carefully set racial balances and exacerbate gang violence.