We are coming up on the one year anniversary of COVID-19, and I’m not sure we have learned anything from this pandemic. In prison, all it has really done is send us into a deeper lockdown in prison. The pandemic should not have affected us as badly as others who were not locked down.
This was sent to all inmates at Belmont Correctional Institute in St. Clairsville, Ohio where I’m incarcerated.
Message to the incarcerated men of BeCI 02/23/21
We have targeted April 1st as our start date for visiting at theCamp only. Like everything else we do here, we must start changes slowly. We want to make sure the process works before we open it up further.
The new visiting process will contain a requirement that visitors be able to test negative on a rapid COVID test. This requirement is in place to protect you. Because this added step will delay the visiting process, these initial visits will be a limited number, with staggered start times and varied visiting lengths.
Our initial visit process will be no contact. This includes not being able to play cards or board games. America and Ohio have not progressed enough to allow contact visits. As America and Ohio recover, we will reassess this with hopes of opening contact visits as soon as we can.
We are working on a plan to allow visits on the main compound as well. We do not have it refined enough to give you a target date. Just know we are working on it and we desire to get visits open as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
I say why would I want my people to travel two hours one way to visit me and I can’t even touch them? I might as well see them on a video visit. I take the pandemic very seriously, but there has not been a person with COVID-19 since February here in Belmont. The facility is a minimum-medium security prison, but the warden doesn’t run it that way.
As an aside, synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or toon, has taken over the facility, and the administration’s response has been to assume that it must be coming in by mail. That means all mail is now copied, and yet the prison continues to be flooded with the stuff. It is causing people to have hallucinations. The more inmates take the stuff, the more others want it. I feel that it won’t stop until someone is seriously hurt or killed. I write this to help give some perspective on what we are going through here. Families really need to know what is going on in here.
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.