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My name is Mike. I just left Chino California Institution and have been moved to the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. I am currently completing the mandatory 14 day quarantine period, required by all inmates after being transferred from one facility to another. I arrived here on September 9, 2020.

I managed to survive the COVID-19 outbreak at Chino. There were hundreds of COVID-19 cases inside Chino and several deaths. The guards began to treat us like experiments from a foreign planet. They walked around with gloves, masks and visors. It seemed like the end of the world for everyone. At night when the lights go out the roaches were there to console and keep us warm. Imagine a roach-infested casket. 

Guards started offering phone calls so inmates could call home. All transfers between prisons were cancelled, but the prison was already overcrowded. It seemed becoming infected with COVID-19 was inevitable. Emotions began to soar, both inmates and staff became irritable and aggressive.

At the same time, George Floyd was murdered and the protesting began. We, the inmates,  began to be neglected by the correctional staff. We were fed only one hot meal and two lunches a day. There was no recreation time. This sparked protests from the inmates, who flooded tiers, boarded up cell windows and ended up being hauled to the unit’s crisis center for suicide attempts. Meanwhile, the roaches were becoming very hungry.

Doing time in prison during a global pandemic and a nationwide protest against racial injustice couldn’t be more stressful. I’ve been forced to endure everything from riots to being forced to remain in administrative segregation past my August 10, 2020 release date, all because of COVID-19. Then to add insult to injury, I was denied parole by the Board of Prison Hearings.

I also suffered the loss of my mother, Monet, the only true friend I ever had. She died in a car crash. But somehow, for some reason, the Creator gives me the will to keep pushing. I even manage to keep some humor. Also, being the father of four children, along with support from my sister, has been a huge factor. I pray to one day soon be back at home surrounded by family.

After much thought, I realized that the roaches and I do have one thing in common. We don’t give up without a fight.

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.

Michael Williams is a writer incarcerated in California. He began writing to inform the public about how prisoners were treated during the COVID-19 pandemic.