Photo by  Pam Menegakis  on  Unsplash
Photo by Pam Menegakis on Unsplash

So here I am, an inmate in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. I am a 36-year-old gay male passing my days mostly in quarantine. The facility I’m in has had many contact scares.

Recently we have had several large sections quarantined. All programs are shut down: no yard, no visits, no classes, no groups and no phones. We are not allowed to leave our rooms for any reason, not even showers. The reason given is that several inmates have been taken to the Intensive Care Unit for COVID-19 related complications.

The main issue with COVID-19 confinement is that we are forced to spend our time in extreme isolation. Prior to the virus, inmates had programs, jobs, groups, schooling and yard to distract from the mental stresses of being in prison. With little to no distractions, many inmates have had a hard time coping, which builds tension.

We are given blue surgical masks normally, but while in quarantine we have gotten N95 masks.Throughout the facility there is plenty of non-alcohol hand sanitizer and tons of signage on methods to prevent exposure. Even with masks and hygiene guidelines, there are still many who constantly disregard the guidelines. Many inmates believe the virus is a hoax. I happen to have family and friends who have been affected by COVID-19. This virus is no hoax!

A person can be lonely in a crowd of people. Even I experience loneliness here in a dorm setting. When you can’t relate to others the way you would with friends and family in the free world, you start to become a one man island.

 
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.

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Charles Jones

Charles Jones is a writer currently incarcerated in California.