Uncertainty describes the months of incarceration during this COVID-19 lockdown. The lockdown is supposed to have a medical purpose, but instead is being used as a form of punishment. Some inmates are afraid to let the medical staff know when they feel unwell because quarantine procedures include confiscation of property and relocation to a new yard for 14 days.
There is a constant fear that the system will make a mistake and transfer an inmate with the coronavirus into our prison and our cells. Many inmates who were in open cells at the time of this outbreak are trying to remain alone, so they can avoid any risk of being infected.
One pleasant break from our anxiety overload was a gift from Mount Tamalpais College with cosmetics, snacks, writing material with postage and resources, like the Prison Journalism Project. There are more than 3,000 inmates here, so the cost and process of coordinating all those gifts was a blessing. The joy in the building was awesome to experience after bearing witness to the change in the atmosphere since the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns. I am always in awe of how the outside community can so openly allow us to feel like we are still a part of society.
I believe that the correctional officers and staff are attuned to the high anxiety levels that inmates have been experiencing. I feel for the inmates who are emotionally strained, who went from having regular family visits to having none at all. The free phone calls twice a month and the photo program are appreciated, but they are not the same as being hugged by your loved one.
This pandemic has been a trial for inmates and staff, particularly the medical staff. I am a chronic care patient, so I have a lot of contact with the medical department. I’ve been impressed by their professionalism during this masked, high-alert period. I have also been impressed by how everyone has come together. It’s incredible that the human race is so resilient that we can endure tragedy and trauma, bond together and bounce back into a better world!
We appreciate all the things you are doing for us. This pandemic is not an easy ride, and we miss and worry about our loved ones.. Still, I want to wish everyone the best for health, wealth, and prosperity.
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.