Hundreds dead. Thousands infected. Stories from the inside.

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The COVID-19 crisis
in California prisons

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The COVID-19 crisis
in California prisons

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in prisons across our communities. The largest outbreaks in the United States are occurring in these facilities, and widespread lockdowns and visitor prohibitions have cut off prisoners from most outside contact. Click the circles on the map to learn more about COVID-19 at each prison.

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11/20
All backwards
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All backwards

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chuckawalla.

Caller: Well, doesn’t nobody want to lose, you know, their rack, they’re comfortable with the cubies that they have around them. And after the 14-day quarantine, we’re dispersed throughout the prison. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to go to our exact cube that we were in. Well, we can go to another yard, go to a cube, and then next thing you know, that prisoner comes up positive and here I go again.

It’s monotonous. Yeah, we don’t seem to understand why would they do something like that when they should just quarantine the whole building. The way these officers, these people are doing, CDCR is doing this is all backwards, we don’t seem to understand it. You know, we know that they’re clueless on what’s going on also. If the, you know, virus – but at the same time, to up and move a whole cube or two makes no sense when you should just quarantine the building.

Quarantine the yard. Why are you having inmates come from another building, another facility, a different prison and end up here just because they are out of reception? Well, that’s exactly where it’s coming from. If it’s not coming from other inmates from different prisons, it’s coming from the officers itself. If it’s not the officers, then it’s coming from the free staff. That’s exactly how we received it in the first place.

Today we had a situation with an individual asking a sergeant about sanitizer. Well, the officer, the sergeant in fact told the inmate well, don’t you guys get soap? Well yeah, we receive one bar of soap a week. Well, then wash your hands. You know, so why’d you put us the sanitizer dispensers in the restrooms just to make it look good for the CDCR or for the ombudsman that comes around for his COVID, you know, check to make it look good?

They’ve been out of it for almost a month now. So, why’d you put them up? Every time we ask a different officer on a different shift, they say we don’t know. We don’t know. So, then we ask the sergeant. He says he doesn’t know. First thing the inmate did on a rebuttal with it, with the sergeant, he told them, well, then since you don’t know sergeant, should I ask your lieutenant?

Oh, oh, you’re going to go over my head? Well, he’s just trying to get the answer. He wants to know what’s going on with the sanitizer, you know. There’s a virus going on, we have to clean every single day. We have to clean our cubes. We have to clean around us, clean the tables. Keep everything with our mask on and so forth. But you’re not helping us with that with the sanitizer.

It’s not helping. So, how is it going to help us in any way if we don’t have the materials, the chemicals to do so? They want us to clean the cubes, okay, that’s fine, we have no problem doing that. Where’s the chemicals? Where’s the cell block? Where’s the material that we need to keep it clean and to keep it sanitized? What, you give us one ounce, a spray bottle for the whole building?

That’s not sufficient. There’s 24 cubes in here. Eight men per cube, 192 inmates in one building, and one bottle, one spray bottle which is a 32-ounce spray bottle to do the whole building? Let’s get real with this, this is ridiculous. A lot of the inmates don’t want to stand up and say anything because they don’t want to get shipped out and moved to another building. Which, you know, that’s all of our nightmare.

But at the same time, what’s most important is, you know, our loved ones. We don’t want to put them in a, you know, scare. We don’t want to put them stressed out. A lot of things are not going as procedures and they say one thing, not to mention again the COVID announcement. Well, for the first few months, we were able to hear it, you know, loud and clear over the speaker monitor and so forth on the yard and everything.

Now it’s so muffled and low, we don’t even know what they’re saying anymore. So, we’re like well, what’s the sense of you announcing the COVID announcement and procedures when you’re not even putting it on loudspeaker. So, it’s no fun game whatsoever. Every time we try to get something done with the officers and ask them for gloves so we can clean. And more rags or again, material spray liquid, they tell us that oh, we’re out. Laundry’s out. We don’t have none. So, we’re not sure what to do. And so, we use our personal property to do it. It just gets old. It really does. If you have any questions you want to ask me, please feel free to.

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chuckawalla. Click the play button again to hear their full story.

Caller: Alrighty. Well, of course, you know, what’s been going on here at, you know, CVSP, at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. It’s just been hectic. You know, here we’re where inmates come from different prisons here.

In fact last night, there was an inmate that was very sick that just came back, just came off of the bus. According to officers, he was quarantined for 14 days. Well, somehow or another he’s been sick for the past few days and now the whole cube, which is cube 17, they’re in quarantine. And according to them, this gentleman has COVID-19.

Not to mention you have several other inmates that are housed here with us. All of us here in our building is free of COVID-19 at this time and moment. But bringing inmates from another facility and transferring them from one yard to another, all it does is put us susceptible to the situation, the pandemic. Last week we had a big breakout on three block, and I am in four block.

Well, in three block they quarantined the building being that there was more than one individual that was with the virus. Well, the officer that worked there that morning, she ended up quarantining in our building the next day. So, we’re like, well what’s going on here?

You know, they just quarantined that building, so why would she come over here and work with us? Are you trying to spread the pandemic or are you trying to, you know, get us sick again? Well, throughout the day, there was times that she was not only half-masked, she didn’t have her mask on. Majority of the inmates are running around with, you know, half mask, if not without the mask, which they should be. It’s just been hectic. Not to mention all my loved ones.

You know, all of this going, it’s been really hard. You know, here we got no visits, you know, getting in touch with our loved ones is hard as it is. You know, we’re grateful with GTL that they’re giving us free days throughout the month. But it’s put a hardship on them. Every time I call my loved ones, my girlfriend, the first thing they’re thinking, oh, are you being moved? Are you being shipped to another yard?

Did you get it again? So, it doesn’t make their mind at ease, it’s not at ease for them whatsoever. It’s very stressful for them. Not to mention it’s very stressful for us as inmates being that we’re in our cube, settled, and then say they randomly test us and one of the inmates in my cube tests positive, well next thing you know that cube is up and moving.

Well, doesn’t nobody want to lose, you know, their rack, they’re comfortable with the cubies that they have around them. And after the 14-day quarantine, we’re dispersed throughout the prison. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to go to our exact cube that we were in. Well, we can go to another yard, go to a cube, and then next thing you know, that prisoner comes up positive and here I go again.

It’s monotonous. Yeah, we don’t seem to understand why would they do something like that when they should just quarantine the whole building. The way these officers, these people are doing, CDCR is doing this is all backwards, we don’t seem to understand it. You know, we know that they’re clueless on what’s going on also. If the, you know, virus – but at the same time, to up and move a whole cube or two makes no sense when you should just quarantine the building.

Quarantine the yard. Why are you having inmates come from another building, another facility, a different prison and end up here just because they are out of reception? Well, that’s exactly where it’s coming from. If it’s not coming from other inmates from different prisons, it’s coming from the officers itself. If it’s not the officers, then it’s coming from the free staff. That’s exactly how we received it in the first place.

Today we had a situation with an individual asking a sergeant about sanitizer. Well, the officer, the sergeant in fact told the inmate well, don’t you guys get soap? Well yeah, we receive one bar of soap a week. Well, then wash your hands. You know, so why’d you put us the sanitizer dispensers in the restrooms just to make it look good for the CDCR or for the ombudsman that comes around for his COVID, you know, check to make it look good?

They’ve been out of it for almost a month now. So, why’d you put them up? Every time we ask a different officer on a different shift, they say we don’t know. We don’t know. So, then we ask the sergeant. He says he doesn’t know. First thing the inmate did on a rebuttal with it, with the sergeant, he told them, well, then since you don’t know sergeant, should I ask your lieutenant?

Oh, oh, you’re going to go over my head? Well, he’s just trying to get the answer. He wants to know what’s going on with the sanitizer, you know. There’s a virus going on, we have to clean every single day. We have to clean our cubes. We have to clean around us, clean the tables. Keep everything with our mask on and so forth. But you’re not helping us with that with the sanitizer.

It’s not helping. So, how is it going to help us in any way if we don’t have the materials, the chemicals to do so? They want us to clean the cubes, okay, that’s fine, we have no problem doing that. Where’s the chemicals? Where’s the cell block? Where’s the material that we need to keep it clean and to keep it sanitized? What, you give us one ounce, a spray bottle for the whole building?

That’s not sufficient. There’s 24 cubes in here. Eight men per cube, 192 inmates in one building, and one bottle, one spray bottle which is a 32-ounce spray bottle to do the whole building? Let’s get real with this, this is ridiculous. A lot of the inmates don’t want to stand up and say anything because they don’t want to get shipped out and moved to another building. Which, you know, that’s all of our nightmare.

But at the same time, what’s most important is, you know, our loved ones. We don’t want to put them in a, you know, scare. We don’t want to put them stressed out. A lot of things are not going as procedures and they say one thing, not to mention again the COVID announcement. Well, for the first few months, we were able to hear it, you know, loud and clear over the speaker monitor and so forth on the yard and everything.

Now it’s so muffled and low, we don’t even know what they’re saying anymore. So, we’re like well, what’s the sense of you announcing the COVID announcement and procedures when you’re not even putting it on loudspeaker. So, it’s no fun game whatsoever. Every time we try to get something done with the officers and ask them for gloves so we can clean. And more rags or again, material spray liquid, they tell us that oh, we’re out. Laundry’s out. We don’t have none. So, we’re not sure what to do. And so, we use our personal property to do it. It just gets old. It really does. If you have any questions you want to ask me, please feel free to.

UCI: Okay, sure. Yeah, I can ask you some questions. So, can you remember from the beginning of the virus, can you kind of remember like a month by month breakdown?

Caller: Well, from the beginning we were getting a test every single day. Excuse me, we were getting a temperature check and we were also, that was three times a day or three times a day.

Two times a day, excuse me, we were getting a temperature check. And then about a month, maybe two months later, we ended up receiving the swab, nasal swab test. And the majority of us came back positive. And then as time grew, all of us were positive. So, it was fine.

And then it came back with 12 inmates that were negative. So, they had them sign a waiver saying that they’d like to stay here a month with the rest of the inmates that were positive or be transferred to another yard. Which at that time, their yards were infected also. So, it didn’t make a difference what yard an inmate got transferred to.

So, that was no help right there. And after we got swabbed again, this is probably month later, the test started coming back little by little negative. But as for the [unintelligible] anything that we [unintelligible], it was limited.

It was actually more scarce then then it is now. They weren’t giving us any type of, you know, chemicals whatsoever because they said we don’t have none, we don’t have none. But yet, you know, the porters, they have to do what they do, which we understand. But at the same time, we needed for, you know, to keep anything and everything wiped down. They supplied us with five masks which are fairly decent.

But as time went on, of course they get used. And to hold them on our face, you know, the bands get stretched out. So, we improvise. And of course, that ain’t working, you know, so you have to discard it and turn it in. And of course, you get somebody else’s used one. So, that’s kind of it in a nutshell.

UCI: Okay, for our last minute, is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience?

Caller: Like I said, you know, they’re putting us – we’re all clean and healthy in this area. And then they bring inmates. That’s the most important part, you know, we don’t seem to understand why they would bring an infected inmate in with us that are not infected.

UCI: Okay. So, I want to encourage you to please have your friends call.

11/20
Careless staff
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Careless staff

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Corcoran.

Caller: Well, right now, we’re off lockdown. But it’s a yard with five buildings. One of them is an ad seg building. And the ad seg building is quarantined because they got people in there that tested positive due to some staff still coming to work that were tested positive. And we have another building – building one is on quarantine for the same purposes. A couple inmates tested positive due to some staff in there who was affected.

And, when they locked us down, it was because they had initially said 16 COs tested positive for the virus. But the problem with that is they let the COs – when they test – if they’re feeling no symptoms, they can come back to work five days away from the facility and still have the virus. So, of course, it spreads a lot quicker that way. Because you don’t know what inmates they come in contact with.

But, for those inmates that did have jobs, they were the only ones that got tested. So, right now, that’s the current status. But, since this virus has hit, it’s been real bad here, in Corcoran.

UCI: Right. I was curious on what is troubling or concerning to you.

Caller: Well, to me, it’s the way they operate. You know, they had this whole yard locked down. And they were testing all inmates.

And every inmate that tested positive, they were trying to move them to the buildings where the most inmates were that tested positive. That didn’t work. It was like a domino effect. It was like other inmates started getting affected who weren’t necessarily affected. So, then, they cleared out a few buildings on the old SHU yard, and they started putting people over there who was tested. And a few people were hospitalized. Once people were negative, they’ll bring them back to the yard.

And they were doing that on all three yards. So it’s troubling because, when you don’t have it, there’s a chance you can get it by them doing it like that. And it’s all about when your test result comes back. If you don’t have it and your cellmate tests positive, nine times out of 10, when they test you again, you’re going to be the one positive. So they weren’t really doing nothing to separate people to a point where the virus couldn’t spread.

It was like they were trying to minimize it, but they really didn’t know how. And then, they were – the staff was being careless theirself. They weren’t really testing in society, like they should. Neither were the free staff and neither were the nurses and stuff like that. So, I guess, once a lot of inmates got negative, then, some of them came back positive. And it’s just been up and down since about March.

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Corcoran. Click the play button again to hear their full story.

UCI: Okay. What facility are you currently housed at?

Caller: Corcoran State Prison.

UCI: Okay. And what is the current COVID-19 situation at your facility? What is going okay?

Caller: Well, right now, we’re off lockdown. But it’s a yard with five buildings. One of them is an ad seg building. And the ad seg building is quarantined because they got people in there that tested positive due to some staff still coming to work that were tested positive. And we have another building – building one is on quarantine for the same purposes. A couple inmates tested positive due to some staff in there who was affected.

And, when they locked us down, it was because they had initially said 16 COs tested positive for the virus. But the problem with that is they let the COs – when they test – if they’re feeling no symptoms, they can come back to work five days away from the facility and still have the virus. So, of course, it spreads a lot quicker that way. Because you don’t know what inmates they come in contact with.

But, for those inmates that did have jobs, they were the only ones that got tested. So, right now, that’s the current status. But, since this virus has hit, it’s been real bad here, in Corcoran.

UCI: Right. I was curious on what is troubling or concerning to you.

Caller: Well, to me, it’s the way they operate. You know, they had this whole yard locked down. And they were testing all inmates.

And every inmate that tested positive, they were trying to move them to the buildings where the most inmates were that tested positive. That didn’t work. It was like a domino effect. It was like other inmates started getting affected who weren’t necessarily affected. So, then, they cleared out a few buildings on the old SHU yard, and they started putting people over there who was tested. And a few people were hospitalized. Once people were negative, they’ll bring them back to the yard.

And they were doing that on all three yards. So it’s troubling because, when you don’t have it, there’s a chance you can get it by them doing it like that. And it’s all about when your test result comes back. If you don’t have it and your cellmate tests positive, nine times out of 10, when they test you again, you’re going to be the one positive. So they weren’t really doing nothing to separate people to a point where the virus couldn’t spread.

It was like they were trying to minimize it, but they really didn’t know how. And then, they were – the staff was being careless theirself. They weren’t really testing in society, like they should. Neither were the free staff and neither were the nurses and stuff like that. So, I guess, once a lot of inmates got negative, then, some of them came back positive. And it’s just been up and down since about March.

UCI: Oh, wow. So would you say that the facility didn’t handle the outbreak, in the beginning, very well?

Caller: No, no, no. Not at all. You know, we’re like the worst of the worst in their mind. So, for them, it doesn’t – they don’t really care if we get it. You know? I believe a lot of them hope we did die off. But we didn’t have a lot of deaths here. From my understanding, we only had two. And one of them was older and had a weak immune system.

And another guy had asthma or some type of an infection that it was hard for him to fight off. And they caught it when it was first being talked about, before we even had masks or was even told to be six feet away or before we was even able to, you know, really clean like we’ve been cleaning since. So, you know, then, as of late, from what they’re saying, they’re trying to bring a lot of inmates from San Quentin prison down here.

And San Quentin had a real bad outbreak as well. And that was because they transferred a lot of inmates from another prison to their prison. So they’re trying to protest the move. But they were successful at bringing some people down and putting them on another yard – not my yard, but another yard. So it doesn’t seem like they really care too much.

UCI: Right. And do you think that, now that all this is being put out, do you think that it’s being handled differently now or do you think it’s the same situation that it was before?

Caller: It doesn’t seem like they’re – it seems like they’re handling it a little bit better. But not too much so, to where as you can’t still be affected by it. You know? I mean the way they program us now, it’s only – when you have yard, it’s only going to be one section of a building for an hour. And then, they’re going to keep rotating it. And then, the next tier will come out that afternoon, one section at a time.

So, when you’re on the yard, you’re not out there with a lot of people and they’re making sure you stay six feet apart. But, yet, they don’t have their masks up all the way. You know? COs aren’t six feet apart from each other. You know? So their way of doing it, it just makes it look like they’re doing something about it. But, in reality, they’re not really doing too much.

UCI: Right. And what do you think – what would make the situation at your facility better? Like what do you think would help?

Caller: Honestly, if they would start releasing people. I mean you got people in prison for non-violent offenders who have a lot of time. They’re not taking the time to go back in cases and try to, at least, resentence people or kick people out who were non-violent offenders earlier than they should.

They’re not doing enough to try to eliminate the prison population. You know? Because, of course, that takes away their job, if there’s not people to monitor in prison. You know? So, if they was to do that, that might could help. You know? Without that, it’s just us trying to take care of ourselves the best way we can. Like, myself, I don’t really come out of the cell too much.

I go to work just to make sure that – and just, you know, making sure I stay six feet away from people and cleaning the phone, cleaning the shower before I get in it. You know? Stuff like that. They gave us hand sanitizer, but they took the alcohol out of it. So we don’t really know how strong it is. And they only utilized the hand sanitizer for about a month. Now, they’re not bringing it back in here. The COs are the only ones that can have that. You know? So, to me, if they was to start releasing people who have release dates anyway, that might make a difference.

UCI: Yeah. I agree. And another question – how has the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones?

Caller: Well, I try to keep my loved ones uplifted. You know? I try to let them know not to worry, everything’s okay. I’m more concerned about them being out there in society. You know? But they’re in high spirits. You know? They’re not – as long as they continue to hear from me on the phone or I write them and let them know what’s going on, they trust that I’m going to protect myself.

And they’ll – you know, when they weren’t hearing from me for the first lockdown, they were calling the prison. And the prison was letting them know I wasn’t affected – everything was okay with me. So that made them feel a lot better. So they’re doing okay.

UCI: That’s good. I’m glad to hear that. And another question – what has it been like for you to have reduced visitation and programming?

Caller: Well, being that I’m a ex-SHU inmate and was in solitary for 20 years, not programming around here too much doesn’t bother me. I’m used to being confined in a cell. But not getting the visits – yeah – that’s a little discouraging. Because, you know, I waited years to hug my mother, hug my daughter, see my grand- now, I got grandkids I can’t hug yet. But it is a little discouraging. But, yet, still, when I hear that they’re okay – when I hear their voices and I hear that happiness that they’re feeling or I get a card from them or they get one from me, you know, it still kind of makes it feel a little bit better.

It’s tolerable, you know, a lot more tolerable. So I’m not too much worried. I’m hoping that, once this gets, you know, minimized as best it could, visits will come back. So that’s something to look forward to. Because they have been talking about it. But, you know, we’ll see – see how it goes.

UCI: Yeah. I agree. That must be hard.

And then, ano-

Caller: A little bit.

UCI: Yeah. That’s not okay. And another question – how have you been coping with the crisis?

Caller: How have I been dealing with it?

UCI: Yes.

Caller: I’ve been dealing with it okay. I mean it’s just like just something else that’s transpiring in prison, no different from, maybe, like a prison riot and you go on lockdown and you stay locked down until the incident is resolved.

It feels something like that. You know? Just nobody knows exactly what to do, because there’s nothing you can do, except for protect yourself. You know, most of us who’ve been doing time for a while – and in these types of environments – we, pretty much, can deal with anything the system throws our way. You know? I’m around some strong-minded individuals who don’t let little things bother them. You know? They know how to adapt to a new change.

You know? It’s not really too traumatic or nothing like that. We can adjust, you know, the best way we can. A lot of us have resorted back to just, you know, being in cell, programs, like exercising and studying and things like that.

UCI: That’s good. That’s good that you guys are sort of keeping yourself busy. That’s really good, actually. And then, one last question – because I think we have like 60 seconds – is what else do you want people to know about your experience?

Caller: That everything is going to be alright – to keep their hopes up. You know? We just keep our hopes up. You got to stay prayerful in situations like this. Because you don’t know what the outcome is. And, as long as you stay prayerful, I believe that God will bring us through.

UCI: Right. I agree. So I’m pretty sure time is coming to an end. I just wanted to say thank you so much for participating in the PrisonPandemic. I’m going to go ahead and end this call.

12/20
We’re scared
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We’re scared

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chino.

Caller: The yard that I was on, A yard, the COVID cases were going crazy. And they didn’t know what to do with people.

So they were just moving people trying to create positive buildings and say “well half the building’s positive at the building’s not.” Problem is everybody shares a communal bathroom and there’s only one bathroom with, you know, six toilets or eight toilets and nine sinks. Everybody has to use the same bathroom.

So how do you put, you know, 75 negative people with 75 positive people and not expect the negative people not to get sick? Not gonna happen. And it just continued to grow.

And then they started shipping people out of this facility up to San Quentin and Avenal. And then of course, the explosion happened at San Quentin with cases from the people that they sent here. It was just nothing but a series of moving people around.

Trying whatever, like they just had no clue what they were doing. At this point, they’re not doing so much of the moving but we do have 14 tents sitting in the middle of our yard. On a couple of key- on one occasion, we had a Santa Ana windstorm and many of those tents blew away.

So they had to evacuate the people from those tents. And they got sent to another yard. Well they had to rebuild the tent city because the tents had actually literally blown away.

So right now, they test us every week. This side of the yard that I’m on, I’m on the west side, we get tested every Tuesday. The four buildings over here and the tent city get tested every Tuesday, so we were tested today.

We’ve all been on quarantine for the last few weeks. We’ve had a few cases- onesies twosies here and there. But for the most part, as of right now, it’s pretty quiet.

As far as cases go, we do have staff members that have started popping up sick, and two COs out in the tent city area within the last week came up sick. Supposedly our captain came up sick this week, a guy that goes around from yard to yard that does packages came up sick. So there have been staff members now starting to pop up sick.

And of course, these staff members go to every building, regardless if you’re on quarantine or not. So the chances of it spreading again are pretty high. There’s a lot of us that still have never tested positive whether or not we’ve ever had it, we don’t know.

You know, in our current situation, of course, everybody’s scared. And the buildings, they’re starting to pack people back into here. So our population is upwards of 90 people.

And they’re starting to move people back into the buildings. So the closeness of our setting that we were in prior to the pandemic getting in here is being recreated, I have people all the way around me, right, left, within 42 inches of me. So there’s no ability to social distance, there’s no no ability whatsoever for them to do that.

We’re not provided hand sanitizer daily, we’re not given the ability to- to sanitize our bunk area in our living spaces, because we’re not given any of that type of stuff to be able to do that. We are given cloth masks. And honestly, pretty much, that’s it, you know. The ability to social distance is non existent, you have to do temperature checks twice a day, but they make us line up.

And of course, they tell you to crowd into a space that’s, you know, should only house maybe 10 people and there’s, you know, 60, 70 people crowded into a space to get your temperature check. So I feel like we’re on the verge of another surge coming through here again. We know we’re right there, we don’t know when it’s gonna happen.

There’s a lot of a lot of anxieties running high. We get threatened a lot. If you complain about this or that, like what I’m doing right now, that you’re going to get moved to an ad seg yard or get moved to B yard where I got stuck back over the summertime, which ended up causing me to end up in a suicidal situation. So it’s kind of it in a nutshell, our situation here.

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chino. Click the play button again to hear their full story.

Caller: Well, California Institution for Men (CIM) was one of the basically the starting points for COVID within the CDCR, the California prison system. It started, the cases started here back in early March of this year. The yard that I’m on currently (facility A), we didn’t start really seeing an impact until sometime in April, we had a building go on quarantine.

Basically, they didn’t handle anything, they just put the building on quarantine, we still mixed with the individuals. The buildings here, there’s eight on the yard. The buildings can house 160 inmates and a wide open dorm setting- bunks are about 42 inches apart, less in some situations, and they are double bunks.

There’s virtually no ventilation in the building, no air circulation. On April 30, they decided to drop the population in the in the buildings. And so they took approximately 30 inmates per building and just called a bunch of names.

I was one of the names at this time, that got removed from my building, and sent over to B yard, facility B, which is right next door and was a reception center. And basically thrown in a cell by myself. I suffer from epileptic seizures, which of course is a problem and I’ve had suicide attempt issues when I’m housed alone in previous situations.

So basically, they threw me in a cell by myself along with approximately 150 other people in cells by ourselves with wide open front doors. A week later, they decided to start COVID testing on facility A. My understanding was close to 100 inmates tested positive.

Facility B building I was in we had almost 40 inmates out of that initial test of those of us that were moved over, test positive, I had people all the way around me, above me, and to each side of me that tested positive and we were all still left in these cells. I did not test positive. I have not had a positive test thus far, and I just had my 14th test today, today.

So basically, what they were doing is like the folks that tested positive were there, they just put a sign on the door said isolation, and they left them locked in their cell for their 14-day isolation. They didn’t even get a chance to use a phone or take a shower.

So it made it very counterproductive for anybody that was having symptoms, which I did go through a period of time where I was having symptoms, but nobody wanted to report them because they were afraid of the situation they would be put in, cut off from their family, stuck in a cell alone for, you know, 24 hours a day, 14 straight days without even the ability to use a shower.

It was very, very cruel what they were doing to these folks, because the way I looked at it is you could end up dying and your family would never know that you were even sick. So it made it really counterintuitive for anybody they’re telling you “well report a symptom” but nobody wanted to because they were afraid of getting locked down in the situation they were.

I ended up lasting 30- approximately 30 days over there before I deteriorated mentally. And I ended up going to crisis bed on the first week in June on suicide watch, I’d actually gotten to the point where I’d actually created a plan, started writing suicide notes because I’ve never done well personally. A cell alone by myself locked down 24 hours a day.

And that’s exactly what it was, 24 hour day locked down in ad seg. You get- they were getting more programming than what we were getting. And we were just regular program inmates that had been classified and they got stuck over there with no program whatsoever.

I ended up stuck in crisis bed myself for over a month and a half because they didn’t know where they wanted to put me. The yard that I was on, A yard, the COVID cases were going crazy. And they didn’t know what to do with people.

So they were just moving people trying to create positive buildings and say “well half the building’s positive at the building’s not.” Problem is everybody shares a communal bathroom and there’s only one bathroom with, you know, six toilets or eight toilets and nine sinks. Everybody has to use the same bathroom.

So how do you put, you know, 75 negative people with 75 positive people and not expect the negative people not to get sick? Not gonna happen. And it just continued to grow.

And then they started shipping people out of this facility up to San Quentin and Avenal. And then of course, the explosion happened at San Quentin with cases from the people that they sent here. It was just nothing but a series of moving people around.

Trying whatever, like they just had no clue what they were doing. At this point, they’re not doing so much of the moving but we do have 14 tents sitting in the middle of our yard. On a couple of key- on one occasion, we had a Santa Ana windstorm and many of those tents blew away.

So they had to evacuate the people from those tents. And they got sent to another yard. Well they had to rebuild the tent city because the tents had actually literally blown away.

So right now, they test us every week. This side of the yard that I’m on, I’m on the west side, we get tested every Tuesday. The four buildings over here and the tent city get tested every Tuesday, so we were tested today.

We’ve all been on quarantine for the last few weeks. We’ve had a few cases- onesies twosies here and there. But for the most part, as of right now, it’s pretty quiet.

As far as cases go, we do have staff members that have started popping up sick, and two COs out in the tent city area within the last week came up sick. Supposedly our captain came up sick this week, a guy that goes around from yard to yard that does packages came up sick. So there have been staff members now starting to pop up sick.

And of course, these staff members go to every building, regardless if you’re on quarantine or not. So the chances of it spreading again are pretty high. There’s a lot of us that still have never tested positive whether or not we’ve ever had it, we don’t know.

You know, in our current situation, of course, everybody’s scared. And the buildings, they’re starting to pack people back into here. So our population is upwards of 90 people.

And they’re starting to move people back into the buildings. So the closeness of our setting that we were in prior to the pandemic getting in here is being recreated, I have people all the way around me, right, left, within 42 inches of me. So there’s no ability to social distance, there’s no no ability whatsoever for them to do that.

We’re not provided hand sanitizer daily, we’re not given the ability to- to sanitize our bunk area in our living spaces, because we’re not given any of that type of stuff to be able to do that. We are given cloth masks. And honestly, pretty much, that’s it, you know. The ability to social distance is non existent, you have to do temperature checks twice a day, but they make us line up.

And of course, they tell you to crowd into a space that’s, you know, should only house maybe 10 people and there’s, you know, 60, 70 people crowded into a space to get your temperature check. So I feel like we’re on the verge of another surge coming through here again. We know we’re right there, we don’t know when it’s gonna happen.

There’s a lot of a lot of anxieties running high. We get threatened a lot. If you complain about this or that, like what I’m doing right now, that you’re going to get moved to an ad seg yard or get moved to B yard where I got stuck back over the summertime, which ended up causing me to end up in a suicidal situation. So it’s kind of it in a nutshell, our situation here.

It’s, it’s a pretty scary situation for a lot of people. And of course, this yard is what they considered a high risk medical yard. So there was a lot of people here that that have already died.

Because you have a lot of people with a lot of underlying conditions, especially older folks, including myself, I’m, you know, I’m in my early 50s, but I have asthma, COPD, high blood pressure, you know, some of those different types of things that put me at high risk. And you know, and there’s been nothing being done to mitigate those types of circumstances.

And we have people in our, their 70s and 80s in here that have all of those and more that are much worse off than I am as far as underlying conditions, and they’re all- they’re all just shoved in these spots. There’s hardly anybody getting released from this facility to go home. I mean, it’s very rare you see somebody go home, which you know, was kind of unexpected, with all the releases they were talking about, doesn’t really seem to be happening here.

So the population seems to be staying pretty much the same at this point. I know they lost their ADA accreditation for this yard. So they’re going to be shipping a lot of the people in wheelchairs out because they can’t keep them here because they don’t have- this yard is not ADA compliant.

So I know there’s going to be some people leaving because of that. There’s a- I’m personally I’m a transgender inmate, so aside from dealing with the COVID situation, we’re still dealing with a lot of this stuff that relate to being trans as well. And and a lot of that being disregarded, especially treatment regarding trans individuals, medical treatment is being pushed to the backburner.

We don’t get any sort of regular treatment or the ability to see our doctor to have anything done or any adjustments made regarding the medically necessary treatment that we are supposed to have. I had to beg, beg them to finally even want to see me so I could get my mammogram done, which I’m way, way, way, way past due, you know those types of things. So yeah, I’m sorry.

It’s so hard to just- to do it justice without somebody being able to see it. Because if you could see a situation in which a lot of us are living- it’s scary. Everybody- I sit there every day and I wonder is today going to be the day that I get sick?

Because I worry, am I going to be the person that’s next? Am I the person that’s going to go out in an ambulance next? And am I ever going to see the people that I know and that I love again?

You just don’t know. Because there’s nothing being done because they don’t care. Even the staff members who are required to own certain PPE and wear masks- they’re not doing it. They’re not doing it.

So and then, yeah, it’s just really frustrating. And this environment, if you could see the inside of these buildings where we’re living, you’re like, it’s it’s no wonder that more of these people are not dead. It’s amazing to me, this facility should have been shut down. And yet, here we are and now they’re packing more people back into it.

11/20
Took over the prison
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UCI: So, how have you been doing like mentally? Like, has it affected you much?

Caller: Yeah, it’s honestly, it’s a whole different experience. I mean because for the longest time, we basically watched the pandemic takeover the world from in here. And then it’s, you know, for a while I kind of thought, I mean it’s not here, like nobody’s sick yet. You know, and this is before it hit. And I got to thinking, this is never going to hit us, you know, we’re so far away from everything. And then it just took over the whole prison in like two days, two or three days. And everybody started getting sick. One of my good friends, he almost died. You know, I basically watched him, you know, become just this zombie, you know, couldn’t even get up out of bed.

You know, and it’s scary, you know, because it’s something that, you know, you obviously can’t see. And these cops don’t really do anything to combat that. They don’t give us necessary, you know, like I said, no necessary cleaning supplies to clean our dorms. They don’t ever hardly wear their masks with each other until a sergeant walks in. You know, it’s just … It’s nerve wracking, you know, especially because a lot of these cops recently, because they just switched like …

So, they switch shifts. And how we have cops that are actively walking through our dorms going through our stuff. And the thing about it is, is that they’re not really wearing masks when they’re doing it. They’re wearing gloves, but they’re not wearing masks. And I actually had right after the pandemic hit this prison, I had one of the cops here actually like, I went to go grab my mail and he coughed on it and then gave it to me. And there’s no, that is not an exaggeration at all.

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UCI: What facility are you currently housed at?

Caller: I’m sorry?

UCI: What facility are you currently housed at right now?

Caller: Avenal State Prison.

UCI: Avenal.

Caller: So, B yard.

UCI: Okay. Then how’s the COVID situation right now at Avenal?

Caller: We’re having actually another round. We already went through the first one about four or five months ago.

Pretty much the majority of my building got it, including me. And now here we are like I said about four or five months later, and they had a whole building go basically lockdown about yesterday or the day before. And then today, they tested the whole building and now I’m not sure what protocol they’re using for that.

UCI: So, how did they handle COVID-19 the first time around?

Caller: Basically, not at all. They didn’t institute social distancing until basically after it had become a relevant issue in the prison. And even then, they basically gave us these masks that weren’t really masks, they were kind of just like cloth like just strung together.

And then on top of that, they were saying basically like, you don’t have to wear them when you’re outside of your dorm, but if a sergeant walks into the building, put them on. You know, basically make it look like you’re doing something. And there’s, you know, they didn’t enforce social distancing because you can’t here. You know, they’re not doing anything to really give us any product to sanitize our dorms. They basically just let it run its course and kept themselves away from us.

UCI: So, I was going to … Do you know how your prison caught COVID-19, like who brought it in?

Caller: I don’t know specifically who, but from what I remember, about like I said, four or five months ago it was one of the kitchen staff I think that brought it in. And it was the main kitchen, so it kind of spread, you know, after that.

UCI: So, besides the masks, has there been any other changes that they’ve implemented?

Caller: They cleared out – so, there’s kind of a difference between the setting. So, in some of the buildings, and one of the buildings I’m in, there’s two floors of housing. So, you have the bottom floor, you know, like the first story, basically. And there’s one, two, three four, five.

There’re six racks in there. So, the middle two they taped off. They moved people out of those racks and basically put caution tape on them so nobody’s supposed to be on those or housed there. So, basically provide social distancing so to speak. But the other racks in the building or in the dorms aren’t, like they’re not less than six feet apart. So, there’s really no way to stop that. And we all live in close proximity to each other. And then I mean really other than that, there’s really nothing else that’s been implemented that’s keeping, you know, the spread down.

UCI: Do you have any ideas of what they should be doing?

Caller: I mean to be honest, they need to at least be giving us some sort of sanitation for our dorms, you know, for us that live in the dorms, not just the porters that mop and disinfect the sinks, you know, a couple times a day. You know, we need something that’s going to actively keep our dorms sanitized so that even if we do come into the dorm, you know, we can sanitize our areas as frequently as needed to make sure that none of us get sick.

And they recently actually changed out the soap dispensers. Because before, we didn’t even have soap dispensers. And then now they put them in. And then they switched them. So, now they’re these big steel boxes where you can’t even really get anything out of it. Maybe because they’re basically accusing us of draining it out and watering it down and using it for our own purposes. And now there’s a situation where we can’t even really get it out.

And when we do, it’s basically like, it’s detrimental to your hands. Like me personally, it started cracking my hands. It started burning my hands after a while. So, I mean me personally, I just take the state soap that they give us once a week and wash my hands with that.

UCI: That’s not very good.

Caller: No.

UCI: So, how have you been doing like mentally? Like has it affected you much?

Caller: Yeah, it’s honestly, it’s a whole different experience. I mean because for the longest time, we basically watched the pandemic takeover the world from in here. And then it’s, you know, for a while I kind of thought, I mean it’s not here, like nobody’s sick yet. You know, and this is before it hit. And I got to thinking, this is never going to hit us, you know, we’re so far away from everything. And then it just took over the whole prison in like two days, two or three days. And everybody started getting sick. One of my good friends, he almost died. You know, I basically watched him, you know, become just this zombie, you know, couldn’t even get up out of bed.

You know, and it’s scary, you know, because it’s something that, you know, you obviously can’t see. And these cops don’t really do anything to combat that. They don’t give us necessary, you know, like I said, no necessary cleaning supplies to clean our dorms. They don’t ever hardly wear their masks with each other until a sergeant walks in. You know, it’s just … It’s nerve wracking, you know, especially because a lot of these cops recently, because they just switched like …

So, they switch shifts. And how we have cops that are actively walking through our dorms going through our stuff. And the thing about it is, is that they’re not really wearing masks when they’re doing it. They’re wearing gloves, but they’re not wearing masks. And I actually had right after the pandemic hit this prison, I had one of the cops here actually like, I went to go grab my mail and he coughed on it and then gave it to me. And there’s no, that is not an exaggeration at all.

UCI: That is kind of unacceptable.

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: So, have you been able to like see your family or loved ones?

Caller: No, I haven’t seen my family since I’ve been in prison. And not for lack of trying. They just, since the shutdown happened, there’s been literally no contact like physical-wise or even through a telemonitor, or through a glass, nothing.

The only way I can contact my family right now is by phone or letters.

UCI: Is there anything else that you want people to know about?

Caller: I want to let them know that there’s not, the news isn’t telling them everything, not in the slightest. There’s actually, I’m sure people have heard, but in case they haven’t, there was a story in the LA Times and it’s actually posted up on the board that I’m looking at.

This man was on my yard and he was a kitchen worker and he feared for his life because that was the kitchen that was, you know, people were actually getting sick in, like really deathly ill. And he told the staff that I don’t feel comfortable going to work, he refused. And not obviously for any dumb reason, like it’s a life-threatening disease. And they told him, you’re going to go to work or we’re going to give you a write up, which is like a black mark for somebody that needs to go to a parole board. Because if you go to parole board with that write up, they’re going to deny you one, to five, to 10- year denial over that.

So, they forced him to go to work and he later died because of COVID-19 from the kitchen. You know, this isn’t a joke. These COs don’t care. A lot of them are here to just collect a paycheck. They don’t understand that this affects us too. And they’ve even gone as far as trying to put it on us that we’re not doing our part when it’s physically impossible for us to social distance here.

So, I just want to explain to the public that this is traumatizing for a lot of us. And I really hope that maybe soon or one day we can figure out a way to make this safe. Not just for the people on the street, but for prisoners as well.

UCI: Yeah, that’s the goal of this. So, I remember you said, did you say that you caught COVID?

Caller: I had what?

UCI: Did you say that you had COVID?

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: How was that – have you been worried about like what could happen?

Caller: Yeah. It’s definitely – when I had it, I knew I had it because I’ve never been an unhealthy person. You know, I ran track in high school, everything else. And I couldn’t even walk the yard. Like when we go to chow, we walk around the, you know, the yard counterclockwise. And I couldn’t even make it halfway around the yard without having to stop to take a breath. And I’m not talking about just a quick little breather, like I actually had to stop and kind of almost keel over for a second to breath.

You know, and then I had to do it again when I got to the chow hall. And, you know, it wasn’t fun. You know, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and I physically can’t breathe. It feels like my lungs are like locking themselves up, you know. I mean I’m lucky that I didn’t get any other symptoms aside from the respiratory issues. But that was still enough to scare me. And now that it’s coming back in a second time, and I’ve heard that you can get it again, it’s scary because I don’t want my family to have to get that phone call saying, you know, your son or, you know, your little brother died in prison because of COVID-19.

So, it’s definitely nervous, you know, it makes me nervous. I’ve never, I mean I don’t think anybody’s ever had to deal with something like this before, so …

UCI: So, how is the – has there anything like an over population issue at your prison?

Caller: Honestly, I’m not sure what the normal numbers are supposed to be for the prison, so I can’t give you a …

It seems like it though right now because our tables, they’re less than six foot across from the next, like from the little foursquare table. So, it says for the, the assistant warden, he put notices on all the tables saying four to a table, no visitors, which means no five people to a table, six people to a table. But it’s going to spread at a table that small. You know, there’s no – they’ve freed it up a little bit by emptying out the two racks in the dorms, like I told you before.

But even then, you’re still, you hop off a rack and you’re less than six foot away from somebody else.

UCI: Yeah. So, how many people live per rack?

Caller: How many people are where?

UCI: How many people live per rack?

Caller: Oh, live on the …? Okay, so there’s two per rack. So, it’s one bunk and there’s a lower rack and a top rack.

And they don’t, they’re not – me and my bunkee personally, we sleep opposite. So, his head would be where my feet are at and my head is where is feet are at because I’m on the top rack. But even then, you know, again if I hop off that rack for whatever reason, if he coughs or …

Caller: You know, if he coughs or sneezes, then, you know, it’s a wrap.

UCI: Yeah, that’s really close. So, when was the first round? Did you say it was a few months ago?

Caller: Yeah, the first time was about, I want to say four or five months ago.

UCI: Is the – do you know if it’s, how the situation is? Like is it a lot of people this round that have it?

Caller: Oh, yeah. Like … There’s … About 90% of the people in my building have it still to this day. I mean like they tested positive. And there’s more rates going up now. But even the people that were never sick are now getting sick.

UCI: Yeah. Does not sound like a good situation.

Caller: No, it’s definitely not.

UCI: Well, I just want to say thank you for calling us. It’s really good to hear, well it’s really good to hear more about what happens so we can try and help you.

Well, then please consider telling other people to try and call in and talk about how they’ve been experiencing this situation.

Caller: Of course, of course.

UCI: Thank you. Bye.

Caller: All right thank you, bye.

11/20
No enforcement
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No enforcement

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UCI: The guards and the officers are not following the rules?

Caller: No. No, they just don’t enforce them. They don’t enforce them.

UCI: They don’t enforce the rules among the prisoners?

Caller: Yeah. Yeah, because they’re lazy. I mean, when it comes down it, they – they’re just – they don’t want to do that part of the job; you know what I mean?

And just with us, of course, people are going to do what they do. They’re going to go down to the day room when they’re not supposed to be down in the day room, and they’re going to do – try to go out to the yard when they’re not supposed to be out in the yard.

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: And people are going to come into buildings when they’re not supposed to come into buildings; you know what I mean? And inmates can’t really control that. I mean, you can try, but that’s not – that’s not your job; you know what I mean?

And they – they have to enforce that. I don’t care if it’s to where, like, okay, listen, we’re going to write you guys up if you don’t do this. Because basically you’re still putting people’s lives and health in danger when you’re letting people run amuck.

UCI: Are the guards wearing face coverings and complying with –

Caller: Well, now some do and some don’t. And some, if you say something to them, get serious attitudes.

Like we had a female officer come in here from Building three the other night – that’s another thing. They come in from other buildings that are positive and work at other buildings that aren’t. We had one come in from three building the other day after they just had 70 cases in there. She came into our building and did not wear a face mask all day long the whole day. And now if you go say something to them, then your little cube might get tore up, all your stuff gets tore down because they don’t – you know what I mean?

They don’t want you saying things to them. Like, no, you’re supposed to wear it. If we have to wear it, you have to wear it. Oh, no, you don’t want to do that.

UCI: Okay. So some of the guards wear it and some don’t.

Caller: Yes. Yes. Some do, some – some wear it like religiously.

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: And others just won’t – won’t do it.

They, like, nope. Nope. Nope.

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Caller: During this whole situation, when it first started, I had a – a free staff worker in the kitchen come up positive. They tested four kitchen workers and they had the whole setup where they could have been quarantined in the chapel and in education.

Instead of quarantining those individuals, they sent them back to four block and those individuals tested positive and got the whole building sick. Instead of quarantining them. Then they started moving people from A yard to B yard in the middle of the night, so more people got sick. And then it’s just been like that the whole time. Nobody’s been wearing masks, off and on.

It’s not enforced. They have a two-tier system where one tier is supposed to be in the day room at a time. They don’t enforce that. Staff wasn’t wearing masks in the whole beginning of this thing. Now they are intermittently and now they’re really starting to press the mask thing because people are pressing the mask thing on them. So we’ll see how that goes. It’s just been – I went out to a colonoscopy and was quarantined for 22 days.

Supposedly you’re not supposed to lose your bed or your job. I lost both. And it took me, like, two to three weeks to get both back. Then I got back to my building. So it’s just been one thing after the other.

UCI: Okay. So how was the COVID situation handled at the beginning compared to how it’s being handled right now?

Caller: How is it right now? Well, right now we have a lot of guys testing positive again in C yard and D yard. The cases jumped to, like, 200 and something. We just had one guy test positive on our building last night. Now they took one of them to quarantine and they took the other one – the other seven guys to A3, which is a – like a hold quarantine building to see if you’re going to test positive or not.

But the guy that actually tested positive came from Wasco State Prison because they’re transferring people in again. So he tested positive when he was here. I don’t know if he got it here or he brought it with him, but another one in three block tested positive and he came from Wasco State Prison also. And, so, they have over 70 cases in three block now once again.

UCI: What do you think would make the situation better at your facility?

Caller: Just basically following the rules, enforcing the rules. There’s no rule enforcement. That’s, like, we’re supposed to be separated. We’re not supposed to be together. Well, when we’re out on the yard, you’ll have five building’s yard crew workers, and three building’s yard crew workers, and we’re out there, our yard crew workers will be out there. When they’re out there, they still let inmates come in and out of the buildings from different buildings which they shouldn’t do.

It’s just follow the rules. Follow the rules that are set down. And, I mean, I can understand because the building we’re in, no matter what, it’s – it – it is what it is. We’re in cubes. Everybody’s close together. We all use the same bathrooms. We all use the same toilets. We’re only three feet away from each other in our cubes. So of course, no matter what, if it gets in here, it’s spreading.

That’s just the way it is.

UCI: How many people do you have for each?

Caller: Each cube?

UCI: Yes, sir.

Caller: Eight people.

UCI: Okay.

Caller: Yeah. And they’re only three feet apart.

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: At the most. And like I said, everybody uses the same bathrooms, there’s only two toilets in, like, each thing, there’s only five sinks, everybody uses the same thing. They just put in hand sanitizer things last week. They finally got those in here after all this time, which they said they were going to do in the beginning.

It – it’s like I said, it’s just the whole thing is – a lot of it’s just following the rules, follow the rules, follow the rules, follow the rules.

UCI: How have you been coping?

Caller: I’m doing – I got very sick. I got pretty sick. I lost my sense of smell. I still haven’t had my sense of smell back for six months, so that worries me. I’m worried about getting sick again because I’m almost 60 now. And it was rough the first two days.

It was pretty rough because I had chills and body aches, and I had a cough for a long time. But I’m all better now. But I’m just hoping that I don’t get it again. And I’m trying to do everything I can to stay away from it.

UCI: What’s it been like for you to have the reduced visitation and programming?

Caller: Oh, yeah, we – we have nothing going on right now. I mean, basically – because I’m in education, we’re having none of that going on.

As far as our medical goes, as far as dental, glasses, anything like that, forget about any of that because that’s not happening. No medical really so to speak of except for outside medical. And that’s an emergency. That’s about it. And we’re getting our yard. That’s a good thing. We still get a little bit of yard, we still get our canteen, all our packages and stuff like that, but it’s still – it – they still don’t follow the rules, rules, rules.

UCI: The guards and the officers are not following the rules?

Caller: No. No, they just don’t enforce them. They don’t enforce them.

UCI: They don’t enforce the rules among the prisoners?

Caller: Yeah. Yeah, because they’re lazy. I mean, when it comes down it, they – they’re just – they don’t want to do that part of the job; you know what I mean?

And just with us, of course, people are going to do what they do. They’re going to go down to the day room when they’re not supposed to be down in the day room, and they’re going to do – try to go out to the yard when they’re not supposed to be out in the yard.

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: And people are going to come into buildings when they’re not supposed to come into buildings; you know what I mean? And inmates can’t really control that. I mean, you can try, but that’s not – that’s not your job; you know what I mean?

And they – they have to enforce that. I don’t care if it’s to where, like, okay, listen, we’re going to write you guys up if you don’t do this. Because basically you’re still putting people’s lives and health in danger when you’re letting people run amuck.

UCI: Are the guards wearing face coverings and complying with –

Caller: Well, now some do and some don’t. And some, if you say something to them, get serious attitudes.

Like we had a female officer come in here from Building three the other night – that’s another thing. They come in from other buildings that are positive and work at other buildings that aren’t. We had one come in from three building the other day after they just had 70 cases in there. She came into our building and did not wear a face mask all day long the whole day. And now if you go say something to them, then your little cube might get tore up, all your stuff gets tore down because they don’t – you know what I mean?

They don’t want you saying things to them. Like, no, you’re supposed to wear it. If we have to wear it, you have to wear it. Oh, no, you don’t want to do that.

UCI: Okay. So some of the guards wear it and some don’t.

Caller: Yes. Yes. Some do, some – some wear it like religiously.

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: And others just won’t – won’t do it.

They, like, nope. Nope. Nope.

UCI: Can you by chance remember how it was – how the response to the virus was being handled month-by-month since the beginning?

Caller: At first in the beginning we didn’t really have any, like, paperwork telling us what was happening, what to do, how to do it, anything like that. None of that happened. Then we finally got face masks. And then they finally started putting paperwork up about what the symptoms were, this and that.

UCI: What month was that?

Caller: I would say – let me see. I would say end of May/June, somewhere in there.

UCI: Okay.

Caller: But at that time, nobody’s really getting tested, the guards weren’t getting tested, the guards weren’t wearing masks. We each had, like, three little cloth masks.

Those are all we still have now is these cloth masks that they – they wouldn’t even let me in the hospital with the cloth mask when I went to go get my colonoscopy. They told me, those things don’t really work anything. I was, like, wow. Okay. And then they gave me an N95 mask. I was, like, all right. But, yeah, it’s been getting better – better little by little. But like I said, they’re still – still transferring people in here, still moving people around, and that causes a lot of, like, reinfection.

UCI: What else would you like people to know about your experience?

Caller: Just that, you know, no matter what, it’s serious. We’re going through it. People are getting sick. People are dying. And a lot of people, staff, inmates, both just aren’t taking it serious.

And it needs to be taken serious because like I said, people are dying in prisons all across California, and they just haven’t learned to do what they need to do yet and they’re not, like I say, following the rules, doing the things they need to do, moving people from prison to prison because just I don’t know how they test before. I don’t know if they test them before they come or they just give them a temperature check, whatever it is, but whatever it is, that’s not working.

I think that’s enough.

UCI: Okay. Thank you so much for calling in to PrisonPandemic. It is now 5:18. Please let – let your friends know to call in. And we also have a P.O. Box.

Caller: Thank you for your help.

UCI: Yeah. We also have a P.O. Box.

Caller: All right.

UCI: If you’d like to mail us –

Caller: Okay. What’s the P.O. Box?

UCI: Okay. So it’s P.O. Box 4430 in –

Caller: Okay.

UCI: Okay.

Caller: 4430.

UCI: 4430 Sunland, CA. Sun, S-U-N –

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: – L-A-N-D, land. Yeah. California, 91041.

Caller: Okay. Thank you.

UCI: Thank you. Okay.

Caller: All right.

UCI: All right. Call back any time.

Caller: Have a good night.

UCI: You, too. Thank – thank you.

Caller: Okay. Bye-bye.

UCI: Good night.

There have been at least

49,223

reported cases of COVID-19
in California prisons.

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