While few states still maintain COVID-19-related travel restrictions, Folsom State Prison continues to require unvaccinated incarcerated individuals to be quarantined for between 14 and 21 days after leaving the prison or following a family visitation.
Even though a rapid COVID-19 test is administered every time I leave and return to prison, I have nonetheless been quarantined for two weeks prior to and following trips to court. This quarantining has occurred despite me wearing an N95 mask and maintaining six feet of social distance from the driver transporting me to court and from any individuals I come in contact with during my court appearance.
While I understand that prison staff must take precautions to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak, I do not understand the necessity of quarantining me after I have taken numerous COVID-19 tests that have come back negative. I have already been extremely isolated even prior to the pandemic.
I have been in administrative segregation since December 2019. The repeated quarantining due to COVID-19 has only resulted in more isolation for incarcerated people in similar situations and the continued deterioration of our physical and mental health.
During quarantine, I have not been provided with deodorant or with grease or shampoo for my hair. Unlike those who have experienced quarantines outside these prison walls, I have had no access to paper to write home or even a book to read.
This is inhumane in my view, and I hope that a more sensible safety protocol can be put in place going forward.
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.