I am writing because of my concerns for my safety, health and constitutional rights. As of February of 2020, this facility where I live did not have an adequate plan in place for the COVID-19 pandemic. In the latter weeks of February, the clinical staff was told that group activities and meetings would be cancelled, only to see the decision reversed. This created an unsafe and devastating environment at this facility.
In March, groups were finally canceled in order to keep the clinical staff away from the residents. However the plan failed. The facility staff continued to enter the facility. They passed food trays and mail to the residents. They walked through the dormitories where residents were housed.
On April 6, 2020, we had our first COVID-19 death. We had not received face masks or any personal protective equipment. That afternoon another resident tested positive for COVID-19. The administration failed to provide adequate living conditions or plans to keep us safe from COVID-19.
Since April 6, the facility has failed to adhere to the CDC guidelines. Being housed at a civil commitment center makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for us to social distance as government, public health, and medical officials all recommend.
Also of note, another person died from COVID-19 recently. Six other residents were positive but asymptomatic. These individuals were housed with the rest of us in the facility. The staff who gave us the virus continued to come to work.
COVID-19 has made it difficult to prepare for my defense while being detained at the Florida Civil Commitment Center. The virus also places me at greater risk to become infected with COVID-19. Since the facility is not adhering to the six-feet social distancing the administration has violated my 14th Amendment rights. I have the right to adequate living conditions which should keep me safe from COVID-19.
Locking individuals in dormitories isn’t safe. People still interact with each other, and I have not been protected against the risks associated with COVID-19. I can not be six feet apart from others at all times. I have been put into a situation where many people frequently touch surfaces that are not cleaned. I use our sinks and showers that are shared with others. The risk of infection in the FCCC is particularly high because asymptomatic guards or other employees enter the facility. Social visits have been discontinued but the rotation of guards and other staff continues.
In closing, I am asking to be released from the FCCC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This facility administration has failed to adhere to any of the guidelines. I should be afforded the chance to be with my family during this dire time.
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.