A group of L.A.-area prison inmates were eager to contract coronavirus ... because they believed that would be their ticket out ... seriously.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva made the startling revelation Monday, saying about two dozen inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic attempted (and somewhat succeeded, apparently) to infect themselves back in mid-April.
He says their department saw a large spike in confirmed cases out of nowhere -- and when they investigated ... they found a bunch of dudes living in one block appeared to be deliberately trying to infect each other with COVID-19 any way they could from behind bars.
Villanueva played surveillance footage he and his team combed through, and it shows several inmates hanging out in a common area and passing around what AV says is a hot cup of water, as well as one face mask they'd each put on ... all in hopes of achieving sympathy from a judge to spring them from the facility and let 'em chill out on house arrest.
Turns out, their little ploy worked -- but only halfway. Villanueva says 21 of those guys (out of 50 in the block) caught the 'rona. What they won't catch is a break, so says the Sheriff.