Photo by Adam Thomas via Unsplash

It’s hard to trust the ones who were sworn to protect. 

I see it every day. One example is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s use of inmate labor. Another is its officers berating people in handcuffs and spraying us with tear gas or pepper spray because we don’t do as they say. Humans are committing suicide because they can’t live with this. Humans are stuffed in administrative segregation (AD-SEG) for minor offences, then left to deteriorate with no form of rehabilitation. Some inmates are left with no other option than to cut themselves to get the attention of staff. God forbid if they were armed with more than tear gas. What about the ones sworn to protect incarcerated humans? Or is that not what we are? Human? 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in the US it was clear to me that we as incarcerated humans were in for the ride of our lives. For hundreds it would turn out to be their last ride. 

Due to careless safety measures on the Eastham Unit in Lovelady, Texas, I contracted the COVID-19 virus. I was given a test for it and five days later was told that I needed to pack my belongings. I was going into isolation. We called it COVID Island!

While fighting this deadly virus, I was fed two types of sandwiches: peanut butter and bologna and a glass of water every eight hours. I was not able to buy things at the commissary. Even before I contracted the virus, they would not let us buy vitamins or medicine from the commissary. I’m not sure why they didn’t want us to have the vitamins; we need them to fight the virus. 

Negligence caused the outbreak in my unit. The virus started in the officers’ dining room spreading from there, through the kitchen and beyond.

I’m now back in my original housing after eight days in isolation. I’m with COVID negative people, but was not given a test to confirm that I was COVID free. Officers walked around without masks or gloves. They served us our nutritional sack meals and passed out cold water. It’s hard not to feel like our lives are of little importance as the rules aren’t enforced and officers blatantly put our lives in danger. If we say one word about it, we get tear gassed and written up. 

As of June 19, 2020, the officers had yet to be tested for a second time. All that stands between us and the deadly virus are negligent officers and medical staff. I tested positive on June 2, 2020. We’re a cage full of sitting ducks, waiting on another officer to once again bring death to our door. 

I’m sorry I can’t properly articulate my frustration, as this is the first time I have ever written something like this. I’m 13 years and one month into a 14-year sentence. Apparently, I’m too valuable to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to let go on parole or early release. I’ve had one write-up in 13 years and one month. If I wasn’t eligible for release, then who is? 

Thank you for listening.

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.

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Roger

Roger is a writer incarcerated in Texas. He has asked his last name be withheld.