Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

With the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly starting to slow down, there has been very little coverage of its effect on the millions of incarcerated in the federal and state prison systems in the United States. 

In an extensive report by the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) for June 2020 and August 2020, mentioned in Prison Legal News, there have been alarming rates of death and infections Most of the prisons in the U.S., including the Bureau of Prisons, did very little to prepare or combat the infections until facility staff and correctional officers began to suffer the effects of the pandemic. 

In the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, efforts to stop the spread were severely deficient in comparison to what was being done in free society. It wasn’t until Texas started to get hit harder that the TDCJ acted. However, the actions they took were mostly just for show. While unit staff and correctional officers were enjoying the benefits of donated items by members of society, donations intended for the state’s incarcerated inmates were refused. We lacked adequate nutrition, sanitation, contact with our families, face masks and social distancing. 

The HRDC has been at the forefront of getting the word out about how COVID-19 has been affecting state and federal prisons. However, mainstream media sources have refused to report on it. 

One such instance was when I wrote a brief letter to the editor of the “Blue Mountain Eagle”, a Grant County subsidiary of “The Oregonian.” In this paper, the editor encouraged its readers to comment on issues, current events, and other topics that the writer wishes, as long it was limited to 350 words or less. But mine was not published. 

Because of the control of politicized mainstream media, the lives of the prisoners have become insignificant. Many of us are victims of a politicized justice system that uses the “tough on crime” bills, passed in the 1990s to hold people for longer periods of time.

It’s time to get the truth out. It’s time to stop the government from using the prison populations as a source of equity and commodities to feed their greed.

The way to combat this is to get the truth out.

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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Richard Shafer

Richard Shafer is a writer incarcerated in Texas.