Original submission by author

Dear Friends,

Many people ask how this pandemic changed the lifestyle inside the walls.

Nothing is the same and it will never be again. We’re at the mercy of the ones who will bring COVID-19 into this facility. Reports on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) website and local news station WTOV9 go out saying everyone has been tested. I ask what is the test and what does it look like because I was never tested. Everything has been taken from us and the staff thinks if they give us a 35-cent bag of chips once a month it will keep us from going crazy.

I will not diminish the effect that COVID-19 has had on the world. It’s caused the very things that helped us to cope to end. Most of the programs here are run by outside volunteers. There have been no religious services for the last four months. If you don’t watch TV, you don’t have anything. 

Trying to understand the whole situation is so complex that to write about it is just crazy. Many may say, well, people are going through the same thing out here. What makes you so different from us? I would say nothing. However, we have become forgotten, like the people in nursing homes. You just have a little more compassion for them than for us. We live in buildings on top of each other, with close to 400 men per building, 12 stalls in the bathroom, no air conditioning, no trees to sit under and low food standards.

We are sent to prison as a punishment. However, to be treated so poorly and less than American—is that right? We don’t get a fair shake in the courtroom nor do we in the medical department. The unwritten rule is that  if they can’t see it, then there’s nothing wrong with you. You can complain all you want and nothing will happen until you have fallen out.

I’m worried to the point of writing this letter. It may sound like I’m rambling but I want people to know what’s going on in this place. Thanks for listening.

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Marvin Myers

Marvin Myers is a writer from Columbus, Ohio, who is incarcerated at the Belmont Correctional Facility in Clairsville, Ohio.