CALIFORNIA PRISON CONDITIONS DURING COVID-19

Various

Issue 61

These letters were responded to and typed by CPF/KAGE Universal Artivists. Thank you especially to volunteers Tess and Serena, new(ish)volunteers who compiled these excerpts.

The following Quotes/Excerpts are from some of the many letters received by CPF between March and December of 2020, reporting on conditions relative to the pandemic and CDCr's response. Predominant themes include:

  • Lack of Social Distancing
  • Sanitary issues/lack of cleanliness
  • Access to PPE/inadequate protective gear
  • Lack of access to information
  • Inmate transfers
  • Protests and resistance to injustices and mishandlings of Covid-19
  • Disregard of the needs of the people in CDCr's custody

 

PELICAN BAY STATE PRISON

  • (May): “...CDCR administration has neglected to assure that our health is not put at risk. There were no cautionary measures put in place until May 18, when it became mandatory for staff and inmates to wear masks. Prior to this mandate we were being exposed by these correctional officers.

As of mid May a staff member here in PBSP tested positive for the Corona virus. Officials are unaware of which staff member exposed other staff members or inmates... In the SHU we are told to clean and disinfect our areas and are not being given any cleaning liquids/products to clean with. For one week in May the COs came around and asked if we wanted to have our cell rags sprayed. Since then the COs have not come around the sections to offer this cleaning solution...”

  • (May):  The  California  Department  of   Corruption & Retribution here at Pelican Bay Prison have done it again...Blatant  stupidity,  Gross  disrespect,  which  may  cost prisoners to suffer the inhumane cruel and unusual consequences thereof...We received a concrete (PSR) report that approximately ten Corruption Officers (CO’s) on B-yard have contracted Coronavirus (May 26th, 2020) and as a result have been placed on administrative paid leave (14 day quarantine), in essence a two week vacation, while prisoners continue being placed on more and more severe penological restrictions, loss of contact and non-contact visitation and loss of yard access, all due to CO’s perfunctory incompetence.

Noteworthy - COs are afforded unlimited access to effective healthcare   treatment/management   resources that prisoners do not have…Prisoners are now routinely subjected to temperature checks, a barrage of questions twice a day, which is something they (all prison staff) should have conformed to as precautionary protocol. Prison staff here   on B-yard are extremely lax in their Covid-19 practices in that - while not mandatory - they are allowed to self-report, “only if and when after they feel Covid-19 symptoms.” This type of draconian, nonchalant policy protocol practice is ridiculous and has the potential to perpetuate unnecessary loss of prisoners lives. We urge our families, friends, and support networks to mobilize, confront and combat these pervasive inhumane abuses as earnestly possible.”

CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON - LOS ANGELES COUNTY (aka Lancaster):

  • (May) “Here at CSP Lancaster, where we are one of the hardest hit yards with COVID-19! The numbers of infected prisoners has steadily risen, and at least up to 90 prisoners infected with this deadly virus. As you may have figured, the bumbling administration and its drones have been hush-hush with the disaster unfolding before my/our eyes.

I pride myself in telling it like it is. And to be frank, CDCr is CDCr in times like this. The only cleaning they’re doing during this outbreak of COVID-19 is what CDCr is sweeping under the rug. More of the same, shady business as usual...   I have been anxiously waiting for the pending disaster, as 2 Block became a sort of designated positive COVID-19 block. It was finally met with resistance as many realized that too many not-infected prisoners were left in the 2 Block exposed to too many significant moves. So now we have been mixed with COVID-19 throughout the yard on D Facility. In 4 Block we went from 12 known cases to 20 and the half-@$$ CDCr response was more chronic bumbling. Ineptitude from the top to the bottom was the answer to COVID-19. (Remember, this very yard had a Norovirus outbreak a year ago.) Lately I sit here quarantined asymptomatic as  they have begun to put infected prisoners behind the Lexicon glass. They have given them their own yard and shower (too late) -- which by the way doesn’t  get   cleaned enough. May I remind the reader this is a whole lot of ineptitude. They always wait until nothing can be done to prevent infections. Word is the whole yard is flagged as COVID-19 and no movement is allowed off this yard, period. Everybody is on edge and full of anxiety.”

  • (May) "Today we were told that we are no longer required to wear a mask on the yard. And I’m saying what the fuck cuz the news ia saying the exact opposite. I’m thinking, are you serious is this a joke? The Guard said, yes, this is what they told us to tell you all. It makes absolutely no sense. It’s counter productive. The Director of public health has been adamant about emphasizing how important is the social distancing. The warden’s been getting flooded with 22 forms.

I have three medical factors. The only thing I’ve been eating are these sealed up lunches because I don’t want to  be take the chance with these police that are inconsistent with wearing their masks and are breathing on our food that they’re bring to our cells."

  • (September) “I am an inmate here at Lancaster State Prison and I’m in the hole, ASU. Currently housed  right next to and around inmates with COVID-19. The nurses are handing out medication to non-COVID inmates while, and right after, handing out to inmates infected with the COVID virus. The nurses are not changing gloves day after day. Also the COs are taking the inmates out of their cells to shower and whatever else; these inmates have tested positive for COVID and have isolation stickers on their cells. The COs are not disinfecting the handcuffs or changing their gloves after handling the COVID-infected inmates. It’s like a joke  to the COs and nurses. I have been in the hole (ASU) since 4th of July 2020. I was taken to MTA on August 22, 2020 before I asked the CO to disinfect the handcuffs and change his gloves. They laughed and said they would cell extract me if I refused. On August 26, I tested positive for COVID-19. After staff misconduct here at Lancaster Prison, and COs and medical staff not properly handling the COVID-19 inmates or following proper policy of changing gloves and disinfecting handcuffs and equipment, causing a spread of the virus to myself and other inmates. I’m in ASU segregation so there should be no possible way for me to contract this virus other than staff misconduct and negligence. After testing positive, and I have my results here on paper to prove it, still staff is coming around cell to cell taking vital signs and blood pressures not disinfecting the equipment or changing gloves. I have been very sick and in pain. I’m terrified and stressed out due to inhumane and torture. Act or process of inflicting severe pain, extreme pain, to put to torture. For two weeks I couldn’t eat and was in severe pain. I believe this is a form of torture -- being careless and purposely spreading something that can be deadly. I’m still in pain, my lungs hurt, and have had a great deal of anxiety and stress. Also I have not been able to write my family, due to the possibility of spread. Once I did get the virus I have not been able to go out to the yard and get exercise and the COs pass by us, not giving us our weekly COVID-19 phone calls.”
  • (September) “As you know COVID-19 is still a serious problem here in Lancaster D-Facility. We are still on a modified program. As a matter of fact, all of Los Angeles County is on the COVID-19 watchlist. The therapy groups that are going are very limited to say the least. I have been hearing that most of the mental health prefer a full lockdown, which would most likely drive these prisoners nuts. Me, personally, I wouldn’t mind lockdown to prevent the spread. Prisoners are still grouping without masks. Some people never learn”

CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON - SOLANO

  • (June) “Thereabout the beginning of May 2020, denim- material masks were distributed throughout the California prison system. These masks are of the same textile of the jeans issued to prisoners, which is too thick for breathing. As well, it contains poisonous dye that speaks for itself. Such denim material consists of cotton fiber, which is a carcinogen that causes cancer, known as Brown Lung Disease.

I have addressed the issue of the masks being inadequate for breathing, especially to those with respiratory and pulmonary diseases to the warden's office and chief medical officer at Solano State Prison, but to no avail. I have filed a grievance on the matter, with a due date to be heard two months into the future, as opposed to it being processed as an emergency appeal. Instead of waiting for the prisoncrats to remedy the mask situation, I took the initiative to file a writ of mandate/prohibition to the Solano County Superior Court, on behalf of myself and the  prison  populace. The writ was submitted to the court on May 26, 2020. I would   be happy to send you a copy of the writ itself, along with the court's decision upon receiving it. In the meantime, I ask that you expose our plight with the mask situation to the world  at large, for this is a matter of great urgency that has caused a crisis on top of the pandemic crisis surrounding covid-19. The order to make the carcinogen masks came from CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz, who is a cabinet member of Governor Gavin Newsom. The Secretary with his team of engineers knew that the masks they designed for prisoners were inadequate for breathing on all levels of humanity. The state masks manufactured for prison personnel is of a different textile, thinner and breathable.  Besides  having  the  option to wear their own mask, they are issued surgical masks on a daily basis. The Chief Medical Officer Laragoza at Solano has personally told me to write a grievance against him before he give me a surgical mask. He is in the same boat as Secretary Diaz, as they are listed as two of the respondents in the writ of mandate prohibition. It is both a shame and a crime for prison state actors to act deliberately indifferent toward those incarcerated.”

  • (October) “The virus pandemic is making life more difficult for a lot of people. Killing inmates in nearly every state. Cali might be the lender in  that category.  Prisoners are dying at an alarming rate at S.Q’s and Folsom—staff  too. It’s not playing favorites. I hear that  the  CJOV  is  going to shut down DVS Tracy next year. There’s always been terrible conditions at Duel Vocational. The water is terrible—I think the whole town surrounding that area has    a sewage problem with their water.  I went out to court in  ’84 behind the conditions at Tracy. Cant really do anything but to keep struggling for a way out of here. I have a youth offender hearing, an elderly hearing and a BPH hearing coming up in Feb. I’m just trying to guard my health. I got   a 115 for refusing a cellie. Oh, what about the 1,200 dollars to prisoners in the form of stimulus checks. I don’t believe   it until the money is on my books. I’m definitely going to ask for it. We shall see. So far the virus hasn’t arrived in the facility that i’m in. Rumors turned out to be rumors. So far. We keep hearing that someone has COVID-19 in our facility. Not yet. They do enforce the wearing of masks. To the point that if the mask isn’t covering your nose you are sent back to your cage. Outside of the cell they want our faces completely covered.”
  • (October) “To give an update on the situation here at Kamp Solano, the living conditions continue to pose a risk  to the health and lives of the elders, and others with serious underlying health issues, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although face coverings, hand sanitizer, and several purely cosmetic changes has been provided and implemented since my last communication with CPF, the risk of COVID- spread because of overcrowded conditions persist. Three housing units on my facility has been placed on quarantine, and later released back into the general population, after staff and/or inmate tested positive for the virus. The same has been the case on B-Yard, and both of the Level II facilities. It remains impossible to practice physical distancing within the prison environment, and no serious effort to mitigate the spread of the virus by releasing elders, and others most vulnerable to contracting the virus, has been undertaken at Solano State Prison. Overcrowding and all of the risks and dangers that entail, is still our daily reality.”

AVENAL STATE  PRISON

  • (June) “I’m trapped here in Avenal in the midst of what the local media is calling a “massive outbreak” of COVID19. I shared the Prison Focus issue with everyone, and it has been helpful to many people. I’ve kept a log of what’s been going on here. I want to write again and share with you     the reactive, rather than proactive, measures they’ve taken here -- some being actually more punitive than anything, especially considering how the virus found itself  to  this  side of the razor wire. We had protesters here a couple of weekends ago, demanding to know why the administration allowed this to happen here. It was certainly encouraging to see them all here.”

CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE (aka Tehachapi)

  • (June) “I am an inmate at the CCI Tehachapi State Prison. On March to June 21st, 2020 we was put on modify program due to  COVID-19.  The  only  program  we  have  is canteen, packages, yard. (1 building in the morning 1 building in the afternoon every day so we will get yard once or twice a week) no N.A, A.A, Anger management, Lifer groups or education. Only therapy group, mental health or going to medical.

On June 17th, 2020, there was a correctional officer working here on 3rd watch facility A-3 Black floor staff that was sick. He didn’t notify the institution or his co-worker or the inmate porter that he was sick. The inmate porter was about 45 years old, a white man. He worked around the officer and passed out food in blue trays to all the inmates in 3-Block. The next day that inmate got really sick and had a fever, general body aches and trouble breathing. They took him to the hospital. The other inmates that was working the same day had told all the others that the officer was sick. Today, June 22nd 2020, in the morning the correctional officer told us that the inmate tested positive for COVID-19 now the institution is on lockdown and 3-Block is on quarantine, and we are getting tested today. Can you help? Thank you.”

CALIFORNIA MEN'S COLONY

  • (July) “I will be transferred to another SHU once Covid-19 allows prison transfers. There’s still new cases of staff bringing Covid-19 into this prison.”

CALIFORNIA HEALTH CARE FACILITY

  • (June) “Our elder prisoners are housed in cramp, overcrowded dorms, cell blocks and in  medical  housing  unit in CDCR as the Jailhouse Lawyer correctly stated, are packed and less than three feet apart in their bed area, and sleeping in double bunks, one on top of another -- a breeding ground for serious illness and diseases, and some elders are already medically frail and vulnerable, suffering a condition of chronic lung disease, severe to uncontrolled asthma, liver and respiratory disease, diabetes etc,. All at high risk of the COVID-19 threat.

These elder prisoners are lifers and already have served over 20, 30 or 40 years, have been taking prolonged weakened immune system medications daily. These are urgent issues for the people to listen to! Take notice of the coronavirus nasty spread in CDCR, threatening the frail elders already living with illness in inadequately sanitized consitions where it’s impossible to social distance.”

  • (July) “Please find enclosed a copy of much of the work I have put in trying to get prison officials to enforce  the infection prevention protocols they claim to have in place. I can tell you that all my efforts have thus far failed. These officers, a significant number of them, refuse to wear masks or social distance in their interactions with inmates. By "refuse to wear mask" I mean that they wear masks over their mouths and UNDER their exposed noses. This is the same as NOT WEARING A MASK AT ALL!

On paper, the prison administrators re affirm the mandatory mask wearing requirement, but their paper enforcement is meaningless because the sergeants ignore it and green light and encourage the officers they supervise to do as they please. Many of them "please" not wear masks. When higher up confront sergeants and line officers about noncompliance, they simply lie about it and continue to be noncompliant.  We don't have the  means  to  record  them  and  they  know it. When we complain, it is our Word against theirs  and theirs always count over ours. My fight is undertaken on behalf of all prisoners in these circumstances, not just me.  As you can see, I've filed requests, won grievances, wrote   to state officials and prison law advocacy groups, all to no avail. These cops come to work everyday and rub it in our faces that they are noncompliant with infection prevention protocols and, complain as much as we might, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. The most dangerous and disrespectful aspect of their noncompliance is doing so while handling the food we must eat and the medication we must take; discharging  their  respiratory  droplets  all  over  it before giving it to us. I fully believe that their reckless, disrespectful and dangerous behavior is going to be the cause of alot of sickness and death. It is just a matter of time. I want to file a writ of habeas corpus, seek an injunction and force on them outside monitors. I need help with this.”

  • (July) “Just a note to let you know we are slammed here at CMC with a bad outbreak of COVID-19. No phones, they don’t want us getting the word out. Hope you can find out more. Morale is real low. Especially on EOP yard. We appreciate you guys.”

SAN QUENTIN STATE PRISON

  • (June) “I’m currently in San Quentin State Prison in Badger section where 125 people just came from Chino and a few of these people tested positive for Covid-19. I feel like they put everyone’s life in danger on purpose. I don’t want to get Covid-19. I don’t know how to go about dealing with a situation like this, it’s scary.”
  • (July) “My name is Patrick I have been in San Quentin since 2015 and I just recently (June 29) was given a Covid-19 test the results of that test have not been given to me yet but I have no doubt I am positive for Covid-19 cause I’ve had mild symptoms for the past two weeks (flu like) not to mention this open cell environment, no amount of social distancing, no ventilation in west block, crowded showers, no hand sanitizer, and a total disregard by prison staff to facilitate crowd control during movement (i.e feeding, medication release, yard releases). The yard has now been temporarily suspended ‘cause they have brought in triage tents and put them on the yard ‘cause of the inability to house/quarantine the sick here in an already overcrowded prison. San Quentin is not capable of handling the outbreak the CDCR California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations created by bringing in 100+ Covid infected inmates from Chino Prison on May 30th, 2020 (a Saturday) which was very unusual to begin with because they never, if ever, transfer inmates from prison to prison on the weekends. I have been incarcerated for 36 years, since 1984 and I cannot remember a time when inmates have been transferred between institutions on a Saturday or Sunday. I didn’t start with how long I’ve been incarcerated because I don’t consider it a badge of honor or  a weight on the scale of considering the importance of my contribution and informing Prison Focus (Town Biz News) of what’s going in S.Q.”
  • (July) “Life for me and the rest of our population has taken us all by surprise with this explosive outbreak of COVID 19. In total, 12 inmates have died. We have over 2,032 cases of active COVID 19. Unfortunately, I too have been infected with this virus. Man, it almost killed me; on 6/25/2020 I tested positive and they quarantined me and my 75 year-old asthmatic cellmate. He also tested positive. My symptoms consisted of fever, chills, fatigue, loss of well or taste, nausea, body aches and headaches. I felt like a zombie, my train of thought was derailed. This thing is one of the weirdest sicknesses I've ever had. I didn't develop a long- lasting fever because I drink about 2 or 3 gallons of water every day. Being inside the cell makes it easy to for me to use the toilet as I have a lot of fluids in me. I am sorry that    I am typing while I tested positive for the virus. I am not a doctor, but I waited until the 14 days was up (before I wrote to you) for my own sanity and your safety as well.  San Quentin State Prison is no longer a Prison: it has been labeled as a “Hospital.” It is a very ugly and dark place  right now. I have witnessed strong men cry and struggle to breathe as they got this crazy cough. I can hear their lungs crashing within their dying bodies. Unfortunately, the weak ones have died and no one on the outside really knows the real deal behind these walls. If I had been let out of prison back in January 2, 2020 I wouldn’t be infected with COVID 19. They messed up when they brought over 120 infected inmates from a Southern California Prison, “Chino.” Even Governor Newsom acknowledged that all this is their own fault due to poor planning and management. Hopefully, this letter and document will make it to you. I felt the need to let you guys know how this pandemic is being mishandled and how our conditions are increasingly worse. This is a cry for help.”
  • THE FACTS OF COVID 19 AT SAN QUENTIN STATE PRISON (JULY 16th, 2020)
    • 2,032 infected inmates with COVID 19; 60% of our population at San Quentin. * As of 7-14-2020 we have a total of 12 deaths.
    • No healthcare treatment for COVID 19 inmates; we don't get anything for the virus. We only get our vitals checked even when we are coughing, or with headaches or having the runs. My liver and lungs hurt and they tell me that there is nothing that they can do for ne; when I inform the medical staff of my new symptoms, they said that there is nothing that they can do for me unless I have a fever and my temperature is over 100.
    • No social distancing.
    • Inmates without COVID 19 are forced to stay in the cells with the inmates who are infected with the virus.
    • Currently San Quentin is relocating / removing inmates from West Block building into a warehouse building in PIA ("Prison Industries Authority").
    • This is an open area in which they put us in a cot to sleep in. Again, by mingling the non-COVID inmates with the COVID ones. It's like they (CDCR SQ) want all of us to    get the virus. It does not make any sense. We are stripped from our personal property and are not allowed to use the phones so we won't call our loved ones and let them know what really is going on in here.
    • Our conditions are inhumane and unsanitary. Since the beginning, they only gave us a bottle of hand sanitizer that was donated to the prison from one of the Universities in San Francisco.
    • We haven't gotten any clean clothes or clothing exchange for a month and a half.
    • The minority, especially immigrants (Hispanics and Asians), are being under-represented as they don't have a voice. We have a great deal of immigrants and senior citizen Mexicans or Latinos who don't speak English, and they don't have any way to communicate or to receive the appropriate treatment or education as to how to care for themselves. We are really sick over here.
    • There is trash all over the place on the floor or tiers, and we get fed under these conditions.
    • Showers are a hit and miss, meaning we get it whenever they want to run it.
    • The mental anguish and the uncertainties of this virus are affecting me more than ever. I'm stressed-out for my health and safety and even my life itself, should this disease in me suddenly turned for the worse. I have underlying conditions: My liver is damaged and my right lung has a black dot. My chest hurts and I am always exhausted with headaches.
    • I am stressed out as to what is going to happen with the health and safety of my grandmother and mother, who are both senior citizens. I can't even say “I love you mom, I love you grandma,” since I am communicatively cut off from them. Plus, I fear using the mail system as a means to communicate with them, since this could possibly transfer my sickness onto them.

I wouldn't be surprised if this document does not make  it out, because they will tamper with the mail. (They, the administration here at San Quentin, are trying to silence our voices by cutting off all communication with the outside world.)

* We are not even being given our simple necessities like razors to shave, cell block to disinfect our areas (like our toilets).

  • I tested positive for COVID-19 on 6/25/20 and I have been going through it. My cellmate who is 75 years old   with asthma and is considered a high-risk medical inmate also tested positive for COVID-19. (I have been placed in quarantine and my cellmate in isolation, and yet we are both in the very same small cell.) I feel like we are lab rats as  they are experimenting with our lives, trying to figure out if we are sick enough for them to remove us to Administrative Segregation once our temperatures reach over 100, and then if we get worse they can send us to see a doctor or to the outside hospitals. This kind of practice can be fatal to those that don't know how ill they are or how long they have been sick, as the virus is eating us up inside.
  • We need for Governor Newsom to take all these conditions seriously and to take action. Out of the inmates being released from San Quentin State Prison, the minority (Immigrants, Hispanics or Asian inmates) are still not being released compared to the other races. I have witnessed more Blacks being released, maybe because of the Black Lives Matter movement. (I am not mad, I am glad and happy to  see these inmates go home to their loved ones.) But our lives should also matter to the real world, including politicians. We are not animals; we also deserve better. (This place is overcrowded.)

The conditions at San Quentin make it impossible to protect ourselves from COVID-19. There are two men to each approximately 5x1l foot cell.

  • Physically, my body aches with constant daily head, chest, back, stomach, leg, and other pains. This virus is sucking the life out of me. I am too young to die from this virus, or any virus. CDCR-SQ is failing to protect me or the rest of the prisoners who are also infected and those who will soon be infected with COVID-19 due to the lack of proper care. More lives will be lost.
  • There are inmates who refused to be tested for COVID-19. They should have been isolated or quarantined. SQ medical staff failed to enforce this known practice in CDCR. Meanwhile, some of these inmates who refused to be tested were allowed to work in the prison main kitchen, handling the food that was served to the rest of the population. They interacted (and some still do up to this date) with the rest    of the inmates. In other CDCR institutions, if an inmate refused to be tested for any contagious disease they would  be immediately removed from the general population until they complied with the medical requirements. Sincerely, Edwin E. Chavez @ San Quentin State Prison ”
  • (September) “I informed them about, concerning the San Quentin Covid-19 outbreak. I wrote about officers not wearing masks (or partially) wearing masks, custody/medical staff NOT cleaning temperature and oxygen devices, a doctor going from cell to cell doing covid testing and placing USED TESTS in a plastic bag with new TEST kits and this said doctor placing the plastic bag and his clipboard on the floor at each cell. Mind you the floors had not been mopped/ sanitized, and he never once changed his rubber gloves. I wrote how they left guys’ dead bodies just laying on the tier for hours until the coroner came to pick up the unfortunate prisoner who died, ignored other prisoners who were calling “Man Down!” a Sgt. telling us not to call “Man Down!” unless it’s life or death, when we were complaining we could not breathe. (I don't see how that is not life or death).”

CALIFORNIA INSTITUTION FOR WOMEN:

  • “It’s crazy how disorganized this place is when it comes to quarantining. You asked about the mask making. Yes, that was done at PIA (Prison Industry Authority) sewing fabric. Inmates work six days a week 10 hour days making thousands of facemasks. Those inmates were exposed to Covid and a large number of them did get sick. Now HFM (Healthcare Facility Maintenance) continues to expose inmates daily then send them back into the population, only doing testing when made to.

I am enclosing the most recent concern. It is very hard to deal with mentally. I just spent 21 days on quarantine due    to an error on cells to be locked down. Now since my cell mate works HFM, I am told I will do another 14 days. The nurses who come to our cells. for temperature checks are not allowed to tell us anything, even when we ask. our housing staff or anyone we ask will not tell us  why or  how  long.  We are made to figure it out on her own. They placed about 30 inmates in my unit on quarantine but won’t say why. I filed a medical 602 and numerous requests last time I was placed on the erroneous quarantine. I never got any response to anything. All Covid issues are secretive at CIW. I know that two people tested positive in my unit in the past few weeks. One was a warehouse worker whose boss got her sick, then her cellmate. Both were moved to isolation. Our Unit Porters got sick from an officer on the evening shift. They were moved to isolation and are back. We had one HFM worker here test positive. She went to isolation and got out. As of right now there are no positives in our unit because they were all moved to isolation. But as of yesterday, 30 are quarantined just in my unit. There are also 3 units totally quarantined. The only reason I do feel safe is that I follow  the guidelines as do the officers in my unit. It is Medical that makes me not feel safe. Medical is inconsistent and secretive. We should know if inmates around us have tested positive. Not just lock us in. It’s very depressing to be locked in our cells for weeks on end and not know exactly why. No one will talk to the quarantine inmates, not even mental health avoids those units. I have an important question. Can you tell me anything about commutation status? I was interviewed two years ago, I’ve done my part refiling under Newsom.   Do you know of any current plans or protocols in the new granting/denying petitions. I have never gotten any response since my interview in January 2018. I have worked so hard the last 17 years.”

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA WOMEN'S FACILITY

  • (July) “I am trying to find resources I am having issues with getting medical treatment and the reason I am being given is because of COVID. I am being told to hold on and just wait however things get worse and I still do not even know what is wrong with me. No diagnostic tests have been done and the reason I am given is I have to wait because of covid. I need help.”

WASCO STATE PRISON

  • (April) “I am currently in prison for a non-violent offense. On February 14th, 2017, I arrived at Wasco State Prison. Then one month into my prison term I got sick from intestinal problems. Since then things have only gotten worse for me. Fast forward to a few months later I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and I was hospitalized for a week. I almost died due to the severeness of this condition.

Once I made it back to Wasco State Prison I was classified as a high-risk medical inmate. I was then later transferred    to Folsom State Prison. I continued complaining for proper medical attention, begging staff that I need to see a thoracic surgeon (the one I saw during my stay at the hospital). She was concerned about my aneurysms enlarging. She detected it through a routine CT scan. Instead of being taken seriously I was given the "runaround" by all medical staff at Wasco State Prison. With time, transferred to another prison (California State Prison-Solano) in  Northern  California.During  the time I've spent here in Solano I've seen thoracic surgeon Dr. Glenn Egrie in San Francisco. One year ago today, Dr. Egrie stated that if my aneurysms keep enlarging, he would have to perform surgery on me. On April 19th, 2020, Solano-Medical/ Doctor informed me I would not be getting surgery because CSP-Solano is on lockdown, due to the Covid-19 virus.I'm extremely stressed out because I know my health matters are in a "life or death" situation. I have faith and I have kept hopes that I would get approved for the (ACP) Program. This program allows approved inmates to go home one year early (while on an ankle-monitor attachment), to complete their sentencing. I went through the prison policy and procedures of which appeared great, but on April 16th, 2020, ACP counselor H. Fernandez informed me that my application was not looking good, due to the fact that she didn't want me going home back to my wife and kids. This goes against ACP fundamental core values of reuniting inmates with their families to reduce recidivism.”

HIGH DESERT STATE PRISON

  • (September) “Now let me give you a taste of what’s been going on here. First off, I think  that  the  readers  need to know that the Attorney General committed yet another fraud to the 3 judge court in April 2020 during the Telephonic Hearing...He told the court that all prisoners had been provided with extra soap, hand sanitizer,  and face masks...First off, we can’t even get our regular  weekly allotment of soap, let alone extra soap! The same would apply to the various cleaners that we’re supposed   to get, disinfectant, floor cleaner, etc. etc...As to the hand- sanitizer...that’s a fraud too. As it contains no alcohol or any compounds capable of killing the Covid-19 virus. And as for the facemask we were not issued ours until late May 2020, plus we were never told or given a means in which to properly clean or disinfect them...

As to our modified program currently there’s 3 yard times 9:00am 11:30am / 1:00 to 3:30 pm and 7:00 to 8:00 pm that flows on a rotation basis. Example; BLDG #1, 9    to 11:30 am, BLDG #2 1:00 pm 3:30 BLDG #3 7 to 8 pm, BLDG #4 9:00 to 11:30 am BLDG #5 1 to 3:30 and so on. As for dayroom it too is on a rotation normally lower tier would program together. Now its split 101 to 125 all have dayroom for 1 HR then 126-150 for second HR. and the second tier goes through a similar rotation. Now as for quarantine, I just went out for cancer removal procedure where I was placed in quarantine for 23 days upon return to my former cell 7 days later an inmate who injected suboxion was running a high fever so they quarantined the entire BLDG. Which went for 19 days! During the last 40 or so days we have had no library (law?) access or paging… I am in the final stages of finalizing my 42 U.S.C 1983 Civil Rights complaint against former secretary Ralph Diaz, Federal Receiver Clark Kelso, Warden of H.D.S.P, James Pickett and facility Capt. M Knedler, for having placed me at risk of future harm, by having transferred all the CIM inmates to San Quentin, C.S.P Corcoran where a cross infection took place that got dragged up here. Then there’s the lack of cleaning supplies, appropriate PPE’s lack of enforcement on wearing face masks and social distancing and not being single celled when I have a compromised immune system. Well, that’s it for now, I hope everyone is making it safely through this crisis.”

SALINAS VALLEY STATE PRISON

  • (September) [phone call transcription] Post-Covid "I’m a little bit concerned with how they’re handling this whole situation. The medical department here -- it’s pretty reckless the way they are --- they’re mixing positives with negatives, they’re mixing people that’s waiting on results with people that’s positive. So I’m a little bit concerned about that right there. Just about everybody on this yard seem like they came down with that virus.

The last week I’ve just been exercising -- trying to work myself back into some semblance of normalcy. ‘Cause when I first came back over here -- in the quarantine building I couldn’t do anything. My legs was just really on fire. A lot of pain. They felt like they weighed a couple hundred pounds a piece. All I could do was sleep, because I didn’t have no energy. I had a lot of aches, pains, and a lot of bad chills. I couldn’t smell nothing. I couldn’t smell or taste anything. And that went on for about three weeks right there. And there were other people over there, too, who were experiencing some or all of the same symptoms. So when I first got back over here, and started working out again, you know your body is telling you “You got to slow up. You can’t just jump right back into this.” That’s what my body was telling me right there. But since then -- especially like today and yesterday, this little brother here that I know out of Watts, that I grew up with, me and him did a nice little workout program today. And I feel really good. I’m slowly but surely feeling better. Every I feel a little bit better."

 

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SURVIVING COVID

KAGE Universal Phone Interview

[Name withheld due to risk of retaliation]

May 2020

 

Min. King X: I want you tell me, brother, what your name is and where you’re located and how long you’ve been inside.

Anon: First and foremost, love, peace and blessings to everyone out there. My name is  . I’m in Lancaster Prison in Los Angeles County. I was locked up in 2006 so I've been here over 14 years.

Min. King X: Are you vulnerable to COVID because of your age or pre-existing conditions?

Anon: Glad you asked  that  question,  black  man.  First  and foremost, for an individual like myself it’s rough  in here. Because I was born with asthma and bronchitis. I’m   an asthmatic. And I have heart disease. So I have three underlying conditions. And from what I’ve been observing first hand, the way these COs, and this overall administration and this prison have been dealing with it, it’s just inadequate. There are being reactive rather than proactive. They don’t know how to think. They don’t know how to move…. It’s bad; it’s real ugly right now.

Min. King X: What are the specific problems you’re seeing, not only with yourself but with others around you?

Anon: We got several elders in my particular unit. And, man, before it got real bad and they shut everything down, they was serving food. It was only like maybe three COs wearing face shields – not the masks. It was only two or three at best wearing masks, but it was 15 overall staff serving our trays. So they’re breathing over our trays. And I’m saying “You guys should have some masks on. We got a contagion going on out here.” They was just ignoring it – the sergeant and whoever else that was supervising out there there with them.

And I’m like “Wow, when you try to bring it to their attention personally, with the unit staff, there getting their funds with emotions. And I’m like “You guys are supposed to be trained to be professionals. This stuff didn’t just pop  up in this prison. It’s coming from the outside. So why not be safe?”

There’s no doubling up on the soap. They’re giving us one– one week we didn’t even get no soap. And I was like “what the hell is really going on?” They’re telling us a whole lot   of stuff about what they’re gonna do. But they just recently, maybe going on a month now, gave us some sanitizer. It don’t even have no alcohol in it. We’re still getting one bar once a week.

They took two guys that was in a cell – one of the guys they took outta here was his cellie. He was a porter. And they found one of them positive. Before they moved him, this dude was going around passing out lunch. Then they  put him in the quarantine unit. This is what’s sad about that: Most of that building over there is honeycomb doors. That got maybe 10 doors that’s actually solid.

Min. King X: So people are at stake of getting sicker, because they’ve got inadequate procedures.

Anon: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Min. King X: The brothers that’s aware, conscious of what’s really going on, what are you’all doing to demand changes?

Anon:  Me personally all I can do is share, plant the seed  for people. I know who’s willing to stand up, and who’s comfortable being passive. I plant the seed. I  let  them  know that I have people who can network with other peoples' families. There’s only three brothers in here that’ve been pushing with me, that got the energy to push to get something going on. I put 22 forms to the warden giving fair and constructive notice, under the 14th Amendment, to the warden, Michael Johnson. And it was sad, because I listed all my medical conditions. Guess who responded? It didn’t even get to the warden, not even the deputy warden. It was to the CME, the chief medical examiner. And it was a vague response. So I wrote another letter and I haven’t gotten any response from the warden, or the captain. I wrote three times to the captain, telling them how inadequate they are. How these COs are still walking around. When they’re not serving food they still don’t have no mask on. It’s just sad.

Min. King X: I want you to know that we send our love, our strong solidarity. What message do you want to send to the people outside about this COVID virus in prison?

Anon: I want everyone to stay prayed up, stay resolute,   stay humble. Don’t be vulnerable and don’t  be  unmindful of what’s going on. It’s a deadly virus. It’s a contagion. So nobody can afford to take it like it’s a joke. There’s people dying.…We can’t be walking around without masks, can’t be getting too close. We can’t afford to. Because this is serious. It’s killing people. We should reflect on the little bit of life that we have and try to do good. And not wait cuz we're all we got. When it comes down to it, we all we got. So why not come together in absolute love and stay resolute? This is an opportunity to look inside ourselves, and at who we really are as a people.

Min. King X: Stay strong and stay in unity. Peace.

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