(From a July 20, 2020 @VoicesofSanQuentin Instagram post)
Chris speaks about the mental health effects COVID-19 is having on people at San Quentin and illuminates the hardship of not having access to the telephone.
“I remember I used to have to check in with my mom every night before final lock up. And if I didn’t, she would be worried sick. So just knowing that I’m breaking my mother’s heart again, not being able to call her. This is about six years ago, when she was still alive. Just knowing I couldn’t put her at ease to let her know I’m safe and there’s no harm done to me, say ‘I love you mom, everything’s OK,’ just knowing that [I couldn’t call her] would really put me in an emotional, mental crisis.
“I’d be really distraught, angry, agitated. If I didn’t have the healthy coping skills, I have now, I would handle it the way that I would always handle it. And that would be to violence. And likewise, if a wife can’t reassure the prisoner to hang on and encourage them… [having] somebody on the outside that’s helping, that’s believing in them. That’s hope, that’s keeping the hope alive for them.”
Chris explains just how tough it is inside: “There’s an alarm like every 30, 40 minutes. And it’s a ‘man down.’ Every 30 to 40 minutes. And this happened for, I want to say, like a month straight.”
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.