Calipatria

CALIPATRIA STATE PRISON IS LOCATED IN CALIPATRIA, CA,
HOUSING 3,109 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,124 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2 deaths, at this facility.

Stories from Calipatria

01/21
Everybody catches it
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Everybody catches it

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Calipatria.

UCI: OK. And what is the current COVID-19 situation at your facility?

Caller: Man it is crazy like we just, they just had a meeting today with the max, with the captain all type of stuff. We’ve been on quarantine for approximately since October, a little bit after November, when the spike really started occurring across all the prisons that I know about. And they were telling us, hey, if we test positive, basically they’re telling us in order to come off of quarantine we have to test positive.

You got people here that test negative like up to 10 times, have papers each time they tested negative and all that type of stuff. But they’re telling us based on that, they couldn’t kill it with the proper chemicals and stuff like that to contain it, it’s pretty much basically everybody catches it.

They’re not saying that that we, like they want us to catch it, but they’re implying that. They’re saying like the basic thing they could do is we have to fight fire with fire. And we’re like what does that even mean?

Like we’ve been quarantined for so long, we’ve been on this modified program, we get this pass like yard with all type of stuff. When you catch it, originally they would make you, they would move you to a different yard. And they would, at the same time they’re moving people out, they’re moving people in. So we were like, well we’re not gonna move no more, like what’s the point of moving? Because uh if you’re steady bringing people in, how are we supposed to stop catching it?

And they’re, and they’re bringing people back that have caught it already and sayin’ that they’re alright, they’re cool ‘cause once they catch it, you’re able, you’re able not to pass it and such and such. But at the same time they’re still leaving the other people here that can, that can catch it from the other COs and other inmates that they move into the building.

So it’s like a cycle of like you’re tryna force us all to catch it, and that’ll be it. It was a- it’s another situation that happened with somebody that ended up having it, but I can’t say that situation because personally ‘cause I feel like it will give up too much exact of my location. But it’s been a lot of stuff goin’ on with people.

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Caller: And they were telling us, hey, if we test positive, basically they’re telling us in order to come off of quarantine we have to test positive.

You got people here that test negative like up to 10 times, have papers each time they tested negative and all that type of stuff. But they’re telling us based on that, they couldn’t kill it with the proper chemicals and stuff like that to contain it, it’s pretty much basically everybody catches it.

They’re not saying that that we, like they want us to catch it, but they’re implying that. They’re saying like the basic thing they could do is we have to fight fire with fire. And we’re like what does that mean?

Like we’ve been quarantined for so long, we’ve been on this modified program, we get this pass like yard with all type of stuff. When you catch it, originally they would make you, they would move you to a different yard. And they would, at the same time they’re moving people out, they’re moving people in. So we were like, well we’re not gonna move no more, like what’s the point of moving? Because uh if you’re steady bringing people in, how are we supposed to stop catching it?

And they’re, and they’re bringing people back that have caught it already and sayin’ that they’re alright, they’re cool ‘cause once they catch it, you’re able, you’re able not to pass it and such and such. But at the same time they’re still leaving the other people here that can, that can catch it from other COs and other inmates that they move into the building.

So it’s like a cycle of like you’re tryna force us all to catch it, and that’ll be it. It was a- it’s another situation that happened with somebody that ended up having it, but I can’t say that situation because personally ‘cause I feel like it will give up too much exact of my location. But it’s been a lot of stuff goin’ on with people.

UCI: I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s heartbreaking, truly. How has the situation changed in the beginning of the pandemic, were they doing anything differently? I know you said that they started doing those things around November, October, but maybe like March, April or even June, July, were they doing anything?

Caller: They were, they weren’t doing nothin’, no they weren’t. They weren’t doin’ nothin’ of that sort.

UCI: I understand.

Caller: They were just, we had regular like stuff like that. And now they’re tellin’ us we can’t have visits with our family unless we had COVID-19 already. And we’re like okay what if we tested negative? Why can’t we have our visits? And they said because we could still possibly be transporting it or what not. Which we understand but it’s like nobody has a real concrete plan to maneuver us, and shut it down and contain it.

They did one- they did an early release one time. You have people here that’s less than 60 days to the house, couple of months to the house and stuff, that are not violent offenders, they’re not sex offenders, they’re not like people that should be deemed like you know what I’m sayin’? Like why aren’t they being released early to make more room and stuff like that?

And they’re not doin’ it. They did it one time and they stopped.

UCI: I understand.

All that stuff it’s just like it’s just crazy like it’s really wild. They uh, they used to have spray bottles outside the showers to clean the showers after each person showered, they stopped that. They used to make us like uh, they just, it’s everything they was doin’ to profile it. Like it’ll be strict for like a few days and after that it’s like whatever, whatever happens, happens.

UCI: So it seems like they’ve just given up on you guys?

Caller: Pretty much. I wouldn’t say, I wouldn’t say so far like on some, they pretty much did though. Because that one time they were pretty much sayin’ okay, uh they stopped it, they stopped, this is where we thought they messed up first, because obviously we can’t give it to each other so it’s gonna come from the outside.

We understand you guys are gonna, the proper COs and staff they’re gonna uh, be seein’ their families and stuff like that. When they first, when they first did it they shut the, when they shut the, when they first shut the prison onto this like COVID protocol or whatever, all they had servin’ us was the COs. And we were like how are you guys the only ones serving us when you’re the ones giving us? We should still be able to service our food. How we was doin’ it.

But, and then but as soon as that happened like two weeks later, more spikes started happening, more spikes started happening so we like, the only way that’s goin’ on is y’all given’ it to us.

UCI: Wow. My gosh. So when is the last time that you were able to visit with your family members?

Caller: Uhhh since January of last year.

And that, and that, and that’s through visit, video visit, whatever.

UCI: Oh, are they offering video visits? Or not even that either?

Caller: They were supposed to have it up and runnin’, but then they only had it up and runnin’ for like a couple of prisons. And then when they was ‘bout to run it here for us, they told us if you had, if you didn’t catch COVID you can’t, you can’t go. Even if we tested negative they said we can’t go to a video visit. I haven’t had a visit since at least January of last year, for sure.

UCI: Wow. That’s crazy. That’s shocking, honestly.

We’re allowed, we’re, sometimes we’re allowed one 15-minute phone call a day, sometimes it might be two days, or every other like it always switches up. And then if your day is not on a free day and your family don’t have money on the phone, then you’re just, you’re, excuse my language, you’re assed out.

UCI: Right, I understand. Have you found any coping mechanisms to deal with this? I mean I’m sure it’s very hard to not talk to your family for over a year.

Caller: I haven’t seen, I’ve been able to talk to ‘em. I’ve been able to talk to ‘em. I wasn’t, not sayin’ I wasn’t able to talk to them at all, I’ve been able to talk to ‘em. But actually see them and stuff like that, that’s hard yeah but you gotta, luckily you have a lil’ small support system for letters and you try to read and I cope like that.

But at the same time it’s like, we’re in, a lot of laws had recently just got passed for CDC for what we’re supposed to have. Be out of our cells longer and go have more yard, have more day room, and there were restrictions about how long we could be on lockdown, where it couldn’t be longer than 14 days. But now all that stuff is going out the window.

So now we’re back to the same old things. We don’t have nothin’ to do, we’re just sittin’ here. You guys are not runnin’ no programs, you’re not rehabilitating anyone, you’re not rolling no staff programs, you’re not runnin’ no groups, you’re not runnin’ no nothing to actually rehabilitate people.

We’re just sitting here doing dead time. Nobody’s gettin’ milestone credits, nobody’s gettin’ things to earn time off, nobody’s learning any trade, we’re just sitting here, we’re just stuck.

UCI: I’m so sorry. And have, you haven’t caught COVID, correct?

Caller: So, see and this is another thing, now I don’t wanna throw like no big ol’, sound like I’m a weird conspiracy theorist or somethin’ like that, but I feel like I’ve had COVID, I felt like I had it. But every time I’ve tested, I’ve, me personally, I have tested negative.

But I’ve felt like I’ve had it and there’s been people, that we know for a fact had it, they said they lost they sense of smell, they know they they uh, they had the chills and things like that and uh, and they went to test and they came back negative so we like, are they testing who they wanna test? Or we’re like what’s goin’ on?

‘Cause we don’t, so for a minute, because they was doin’ all the stuff, we all said like we’re, people, we’re not gonna test for a little bit whatever the case may be. But then when we all test we’re all negative, but then a test or two later, positives will come up.

UCI: Yeah I’m sure that’s, that’s very confusing especially if you’re feeling symptoms or, or someone you know is feeling symptoms.

Caller: Exactly, that’s very confusing.

UCI: So right now it seems like they’re very um all over the place with their procedures. They haven’t told-

Caller: They have no set, they have no set plan whatsoever. It’s been somethin’ different literally every single week. It’s been somethin’ different, we hear somethin’ different.

UCI: I see, and have you heard anything from the staff about what they think about it, about anything that they feel?

Caller: Yeah. Yes, I’ve heard a CO say it’s bullshit, basically, unless we all catch it, it’s just gon’ keep goin’ on for a minute. Because once they feel like we all catch it, then they can, it that we can’t pass it between each other.

I’ve heard a CO that catchin’ it come back, and at first they be implementing it so hard like wear ya mask, wear ya mask, wear ya mask. Then sometimes they come without wearing they mask. We’ll say stuff like where’s, why ain’t yo mask on? Then he’ll yell back like, “oh I already had it” or something like that.

Or uh, and we’ve asked about, you know we’re not too educated on the vaccines, so we asking about, we be asking about the vaccines and stuff like that, they’re supposed to be starting to implement it. And we have COs that’ll tell us, “oh I’m not taking that shit, I’m not…” you know stuff like that, so we’re confused on that end.

All just, all different types of stuff.

UCI: Alright, and have they given you any masks? Or anything else besides, I know you said they had a spray in the shower before?

Caller: Yeah, they used to have spray bottles outside the shower so that way you could spray it down, the whole shower down, before you go in there, you know what I’m sayin’?

And at first they was, and they they’ll teeter totter on that, one minute they would give us showers everyday, the next time they’ll give us showers every other day, they tell us we’re supposed to be clean and all this and all that, and they’ll go to passing out disinfectant everyday,
to not passing the disinfectant.

They’re constantly runnin’ out of toilet paper, sayin’ they’re short on supplies due to this and that, like that that so that’s that be a whole thing too when you have to, you know what I’m sayin’ do humanly functions and you don’t even have nothin’ to you know what I’m sayin’, relieve yourself properly.

UCI: Mhm.

Caller: And so that’s not, that’s not cool.

UCI: Right, and is there anything else that you wanted to share that you had just experienced while being in there? It doesn’t have to be COVID related.

Caller: Na, I’ma uh, it’s been a couple of incidents but they’ve been like specific incidents, and I don’t wanna speak on ‘em for, you know.

UCI: Yeah, that’s fine.

Caller: ‘Cause it, it’s actually some COVID thing but they’ve happened exclusively where I’m at. So it’s like I don’t wanna, you know? I know they have incidents everywhere so they can, any common incident they would never know, but if I say the exact things ‘cause you know?

UCI: Yeah, exactly and I want you to protect yourself as much as you can and you don’t have to share anything that you don’t want to.

Caller: But I appreciate what y’all doin’, shoot like when somebody, when somebody had got that, you know what I’m sayin’, when I was aware that you guys were doin’ this man, ‘cause somebody needs to somethin’ and like put it out there somehow.

So that way people could see it and hopefully, the right person sees it and asks the right questions and shakes the right trees because, how do they not have somebody of a higher medical, CDC certified, executing a plan with these guys and putting that plan into motion and sticking with that plan to, in order for us to get through this pandemic in uh, shit, a mature way.

‘Cause right now it’s just games being played with us. And regardless of the mistakes that we make, we’re still human.

UCI: Yeah I agree 100%, and that’s our goal with the website that we’re going to be creating, it’s going by PrisonPandemic UCI so in the future, once we have it up, we would love for you to visit it, and um see all the other stories that we’ve posted on there as well.

And then lastly, if you don’t have anything else to share or um if you could even relay the message to anyone else that you know might have a story to share that would be greatly appreciated.

Caller: I most definitely will do that.

UCI: Okay great, thank you so much for participating in PrisonPandemic and um, we hope that you continue to stay safe in there, okay?

Caller: Okay, thank you.

UCI: Thank you.

01/21
Fire with fire
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Fire with fire

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Calipatria.

Ma’am, CDCR and their medical staff view us as test dummies. They do not respect the health and safety of the individuals incarcerated here. Yes, we have been sentenced to repays debt due to society. But does losing one life to this carefree COVID-19 pandemic settle any scores? Absolutely not, the inmate population here is the centerpiece of a game of grab ass. Where the end goal is to keep us pacified with lies and misguided truths. Individuals from CDCR rank will blame issues on medical personnel. Then medical will deny the so-called quoted medical procedure coming from CDCR. This has been the rules of engagement over the year.

I feel that over the past five or six months my life has been in peril by CDCR and its medical staff. I have been trapped in a housing unit where positive tests have been ran rapid. At no time has anyone attempted to remove me or other negative testing inmates from the housing units or get us to sign paperwork to say we’re refusing to leave the unit.

Do they have suitable housing to place negative testing inmates, you ask? Yes, there’s a complete housing unit, 200 beds, empty on the yard, not in use.

I must tell you I have tested negative over eight times. However I am the one being punished for following CDC guidelines and not becoming infected. We are constantly told we are not allowed to return to work (which gives us opportunities to earn work time credits for release), visiting, etc., until we are a “resolved case.”

What does that mean? It means that I must somehow contract COVID-19 and place in the hands of CDC medical to save me. This game here is called “burning out the fire with fire” according to CDCR. This is a stupid way to play games with people’s lives. I have paid close attention to the advice CDC has given to the general public and at no time is there desire for one to become infected.

The reprisal tactics are alive and well here too. We haven’t been allowed to have visits in over 11 months. That alone is very hard on the emotional and mental health of us inmates. Now CDCR has come has come up with video visitation to relieve some stress on inmates and their families.

However there’s a Catch-22 in all of this. According to CDCR and CDCR medical staff, the only inmates allowed access to the program are COVID-19 positive testing individuals. That view of rationale to explain the course of action makes no sense at all.

In closing I’ll say this we are being punished enough by being incarcerated. What does it gain to have the one’s in charge of our health and safety attempt to punish us when the worst game plan can easily result in death!

Fire with fire

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01/21
A broken system
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A broken system

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Calipatria.

The fundamental basis of one’s survival here in these trenches is the mainlining of one’s mental health, irregardless as to whatever dilemma we may face be it a life sentence, years upon years in solitary or as is the current state of all of our collective lives, the dangers of living with and through a pandemic the likes of which we’ve never faced: COVID!

In an already broken system, the challenge of survival in these current times, has been first, second, and third, in relation to the severity of this thing, as well as our own collective responsibility that we (the prisoners) has to keep in mind how utterly important it is for us, and us alone, to ensure we do all that can be done in our limited capacity to protect ourselves, as we know that 80% (give or take) of the personnel here will be just as careless in their own lives as are a large segment. Of the society are foolishly and recklessly negligent in protecting their own lives, and more importantly protecting the lives of those whom they profess to love.

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1-2021

Hello,

I like to first thank you profoundly for your kind words and obvious concerns in such tumultuous (and trying) times. Not often does one receive letters “out of the blue” in here behind enemy lines from complete strangers. But when it does occur, we here, truly are touched and highly appreciative of it. So again, thank you.

Moving on, the fundamental basis of one’s survival here in these trenches is the mainlining of one’s mental health, irregardless as to whatever dilemma we may face be it a life sentence, years upon years in solitary or as is the current state of all of our collective lives, the dangers of living with and through a pandemic the likes of which we’ve never faced: COVID!

In an already broken system, the challenge of survival in these current times, has been first, second, and third, in relation to the severity of this thing, as well as our own collective responsibility that we (the prisoners) has to keep in mind how utterly important it is for us, and us alone, to ensure we do all that can be done in our limited capacity to protect ourselves, as we know that 80% (give or take) of the personnel here will be just as careless in their own lives as are a large segment. Of the society are foolishly and recklessly negligent in protecting their own lives, and more importantly protecting the lives of those whom they profess to love.

We here know the importance of wearing mask, washing hands and keeping safe distance from others. Of course this isn’t a guaranteed remedy in avoiding the virus. However, it has been “scientifically” proven to be an effective measure to keep one’s self safe. Unfortunately, many people here have been plagued by this virus as a result of many incompetent personnel here who failed to take precaution personally, and as such, 100s of prisoners have been effected by this.

My own personal safety is something I protect until the death if need be. But there isn’t enough defense in the world to go round with COVID, but aside from that, my only goal is to continue staying focused and never lose sight on protecting my self here, now, and forever as it seem people in certain segments of society has decided all this COVID stuff is and was fake, and mask are for the “shape shifters,” and so it would appear that those people’s goals are to keep COVID around for as long as possible.

Having been responsible for destruction within my own community, both on people as well as property, I’ve come to learn over all these years all of the other life atrocities those communities faced without my help and others like me, and it is truly disheartened me, to see how devastating this virus has been to the Black community, not diminishing the fact that all communities have been effected by this. Nevertheless, disproportionally have Black and Brown folk been devastated by this pandemic.

The toll it has taking on my family, I’m sure is similar to the toll its taken on other families. Over the years I’ve grown a sort of detached mind over things that would effect regular non incarcerated people and so, outside of hoping for the continued safety and good of health of my family. I know that all I can control is my own actions and decisions, and people outside of here have to be in control likewise or else suffer the consequences if they decide to play roulette with life, liberty, or personal freedom.

If I can live with my own decisions no matter how bad many of them turned out be. Other out there need to ask theirselves can they too live with their own decisions, especially if it leads to a loved one dying as a result of said decisions.

Thank you, respectfully, [redacted].

P.S. Sincerely, I over-appreciate you for sharing your time with me and those in my current station. I hope I was expressive enough in order to fit whatever future positive reforms you feel can come out of all this. We too hope that something positive can materialize from out of this, as our (to some extent) overall view leans to a more pessimistic outcome. Yet there still exist an optimistic hope that we will never, totally, give up on. So thank you. You/y’all be safe!

In solidarity, I, you, we stand,


[redacted]

01/21
Felt like I had it
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Felt like I had it

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UCI: I’m so sorry. And have, you haven’t caught COVID, correct?

Caller: So, see and this is another thing. Now I don’t wanna throw like no big ol’, sound like I’m a weird conspiracy theorist or somethin’ like that, but I feel like I’ve had COVID. I felt like I had it. But every time I’ve tested, I’ve, me personally, I have tested negative.

But I’ve felt like I’ve had it and there’s been people, that we know for a fact had it. And they said they lost they sense of smell. They know they they uh, they had the chills and things like that and uh, and they went to test and they came back negative so we like, are they testing who they wanna test? Or we’re like what’s goin’ on?

‘Cause we don’t, so for a minute, because they was doin’ all the stuff, we all said like we’re, people, we’re not gonna test for a little bit whatever the case may be. And then when we all test, we’re all negative, but then a test or two later, a positive will come up.

UCI: Yeah I’m sure that’s, that’s very confusing especially if you’re feeling symptoms or, or someone you know is feeling symptoms.

Caller: Exactly, that’s very confusing.

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Caller: And they were telling us, hey, if we test positive, basically they’re telling us in order to come off of quarantine we have to test positive.

You got people here that test negative like up to 10 times, have papers each time they tested negative and all that type of stuff. But they’re telling us based on that, they couldn’t kill it with the proper chemicals and stuff like that to contain it, it’s pretty much basically everybody catches it.

They’re not saying that that we, like they want us to catch it, but they’re implying that. They’re saying like the basic thing they could do is we have to fight fire with fire. And we’re like what does that mean?

Like we’ve been quarantined for so long, we’ve been on this modified program, we get this pass like yard with all type of stuff. When you catch it, originally they would make you, they would move you to a different yard. And they would, at the same time they’re moving people out, they’re moving people in. So we were like, well we’re not gonna move no more, like what’s the point of moving? Because uh if you’re steady bringing people in, how are we supposed to stop catching it?

And they’re, and they’re bringing people back that have caught it already and sayin’ that they’re alright, they’re cool ‘cause once they catch it, you’re able, you’re able not to pass it and such and such. But at the same time they’re still leaving the other people here that can, that can catch it from other COs and other inmates that they move into the building.

So it’s like a cycle of like you’re tryna force us all to catch it, and that’ll be it. It was a- it’s another situation that happened with somebody that ended up having it, but I can’t say that situation because personally ‘cause I feel like it will give up too much exact of my location. But it’s been a lot of stuff goin’ on with people.

UCI: I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s heartbreaking, truly. How has the situation changed in the beginning of the pandemic, were they doing anything differently? I know you said that they started doing those things around November, October, but maybe like March, April or even June, July, were they doing anything?

Caller: They were, they weren’t doing nothin’, no they weren’t. They weren’t doin’ nothin’ of that sort.

UCI: I understand.

Caller: They were just, we had regular like stuff like that. And now they’re tellin’ us we can’t have visits with our family unless we had COVID-19 already. And we’re like okay what if we tested negative? Why can’t we have our visits? And they said because we could still possibly be transporting it or what not. Which we understand but it’s like nobody has a real concrete plan to maneuver us, and shut it down and contain it.

They did one- they did an early release one time. You have people here that’s less than 60 days to the house, couple of months to the house and stuff, that are not violent offenders, they’re not sex offenders, they’re not like people that should be deemed like you know what I’m sayin’? Like why aren’t they being released early to make more room and stuff like that?

And they’re not doin’ it. They did it one time and they stopped.

UCI: I understand.

All that stuff it’s just like it’s just crazy like it’s really wild. They uh, they used to have spray bottles outside the showers to clean the showers after each person showered, they stopped that. They used to make us like uh, they just, it’s everything they was doin’ to profile it. Like it’ll be strict for like a few days and after that it’s like whatever, whatever happens, happens.

UCI: So it seems like they’ve just given up on you guys?

Caller: Pretty much. I wouldn’t say, I wouldn’t say so far like on some, they pretty much did though. Because that one time they were pretty much sayin’ okay, uh they stopped it, they stopped, this is where we thought they messed up first, because obviously we can’t give it to each other so it’s gonna come from the outside.

We understand you guys are gonna, the proper COs and staff they’re gonna uh, be seein’ their families and stuff like that. When they first, when they first did it they shut the, when they shut the, when they first shut the prison onto this like COVID protocol or whatever, all they had servin’ us was the COs. And we were like how are you guys the only ones serving us when you’re the ones giving us? We should still be able to service our food. How we was doin’ it.

But, and then but as soon as that happened like two weeks later, more spikes started happening, more spikes started happening so we like, the only way that’s goin’ on is y’all given’ it to us.

UCI: Wow. My gosh. So when is the last time that you were able to visit with your family members?

Caller: Uhhh since January of last year.

And that, and that, and that’s through visit, video visit, whatever.

UCI: Oh, are they offering video visits? Or not even that either?

Caller: They were supposed to have it up and runnin’, but then they only had it up and runnin’ for like a couple of prisons. And then when they was ‘bout to run it here for us, they told us if you had, if you didn’t catch COVID you can’t, you can’t go. Even if we tested negative they said we can’t go to a video visit. I haven’t had a visit since at least January of last year, for sure.

UCI: Wow. That’s crazy. That’s shocking, honestly.

We’re allowed, we’re, sometimes we’re allowed one 15-minute phone call a day, sometimes it might be two days, or every other like it always switches up. And then if your day is not on a free day and your family don’t have money on the phone, then you’re just, you’re, excuse my language, you’re assed out.

UCI: Right, I understand. Have you found any coping mechanisms to deal with this? I mean I’m sure it’s very hard to not talk to your family for over a year.

Caller: I haven’t seen, I’ve been able to talk to ‘em. I’ve been able to talk to ‘em. I wasn’t, not sayin’ I wasn’t able to talk to them at all, I’ve been able to talk to ‘em. But actually see them and stuff like that, that’s hard yeah but you gotta, luckily you have a lil’ small support system for letters and you try to read and I cope like that.

But at the same time it’s like, we’re in, a lot of laws had recently just got passed for CDC for what we’re supposed to have. Be out of our cells longer and go have more yard, have more day room, and there were restrictions about how long we could be on lockdown, where it couldn’t be longer than 14 days. But now all that stuff is going out the window.

So now we’re back to the same old things. We don’t have nothin’ to do, we’re just sittin’ here. You guys are not runnin’ no programs, you’re not rehabilitating anyone, you’re not rolling no staff programs, you’re not runnin’ no groups, you’re not runnin’ no nothing to actually rehabilitate people.

We’re just sitting here doing dead time. Nobody’s gettin’ milestone credits, nobody’s gettin’ things to earn time off, nobody’s learning any trade, we’re just sitting here, we’re just stuck.

UCI: I’m so sorry. And have, you haven’t caught COVID, correct?

Caller: So, see and this is another thing, now I don’t wanna throw like no big ol’, sound like I’m a weird conspiracy theorist or somethin’ like that, but I feel like I’ve had COVID, I felt like I had it. But every time I’ve tested, I’ve, me personally, I have tested negative.

But I’ve felt like I’ve had it and there’s been people, that we know for a fact had it, they said they lost they sense of smell, they know they they uh, they had the chills and things like that and uh, and they went to test and they came back negative so we like, are they testing who they wanna test? Or we’re like what’s goin’ on?

‘Cause we don’t, so for a minute, because they was doin’ all the stuff, we all said like we’re, people, we’re not gonna test for a little bit whatever the case may be. But then when we all test we’re all negative, but then a test or two later, positives will come up.

UCI: Yeah I’m sure that’s, that’s very confusing especially if you’re feeling symptoms or, or someone you know is feeling symptoms.

Caller: Exactly, that’s very confusing.

UCI: So right now it seems like they’re very um all over the place with their procedures. They haven’t told-

Caller: They have no set, they have no set plan whatsoever. It’s been somethin’ different literally every single week. It’s been somethin’ different, we hear somethin’ different.

UCI: I see, and have you heard anything from the staff about what they think about it, about anything that they feel?

Caller: Yeah. Yes, I’ve heard a CO say it’s bullshit, basically, unless we all catch it, it’s just gon’ keep goin’ on for a minute. Because once they feel like we all catch it, then they can, it that we can’t pass it between each other.

I’ve heard a CO that catchin’ it come back, and at first they be implementing it so hard like wear ya mask, wear ya mask, wear ya mask. Then sometimes they come without wearing they mask. We’ll say stuff like where’s, why ain’t yo mask on? Then he’ll yell back like, “oh I already had it” or something like that.

Or uh, and we’ve asked about, you know we’re not too educated on the vaccines, so we asking about, we be asking about the vaccines and stuff like that, they’re supposed to be starting to implement it. And we have COs that’ll tell us, “oh I’m not taking that shit, I’m not…” you know stuff like that, so we’re confused on that end.

All just, all different types of stuff.

UCI: Alright, and have they given you any masks? Or anything else besides, I know you said they had a spray in the shower before?

Caller: Yeah, they used to have spray bottles outside the shower so that way you could spray it down, the whole shower down, before you go in there, you know what I’m sayin’?

And at first they was, and they they’ll teeter totter on that, one minute they would give us showers everyday, the next time they’ll give us showers every other day, they tell us we’re supposed to be clean and all this and all that, and they’ll go to passing out disinfectant everyday,
to not passing the disinfectant.

They’re constantly runnin’ out of toilet paper, sayin’ they’re short on supplies due to this and that, like that that so that’s that be a whole thing too when you have to, you know what I’m sayin’ do humanly functions and you don’t even have nothin’ to you know what I’m sayin’, relieve yourself properly.

UCI: Mhm.

Caller: And so that’s not, that’s not cool.

UCI: Right, and is there anything else that you wanted to share that you had just experienced while being in there? It doesn’t have to be COVID related.

Caller: Na, I’ma uh, it’s been a couple of incidents but they’ve been like specific incidents, and I don’t wanna speak on ‘em for, you know.

UCI: Yeah, that’s fine.

Caller: ‘Cause it, it’s actually some COVID thing but they’ve happened exclusively where I’m at. So it’s like I don’t wanna, you know? I know they have incidents everywhere so they can, any common incident they would never know, but if I say the exact things ‘cause you know?

UCI: Yeah, exactly and I want you to protect yourself as much as you can and you don’t have to share anything that you don’t want to.

Caller: But I appreciate what y’all doin’, shoot like when somebody, when somebody had got that, you know what I’m sayin’, when I was aware that you guys were doin’ this man, ‘cause somebody needs to somethin’ and like put it out there somehow.

So that way people could see it and hopefully, the right person sees it and asks the right questions and shakes the right trees because, how do they not have somebody of a higher medical, CDC certified, executing a plan with these guys and putting that plan into motion and sticking with that plan to, in order for us to get through this pandemic in uh, shit, a mature way.

‘Cause right now it’s just games being played with us. And regardless of the mistakes that we make, we’re still human.

UCI: Yeah I agree 100%, and that’s our goal with the website that we’re going to be creating, it’s going by PrisonPandemic UCI so in the future, once we have it up, we would love for you to visit it, and um see all the other stories that we’ve posted on there as well.

And then lastly, if you don’t have anything else to share or um if you could even relay the message to anyone else that you know might have a story to share that would be greatly appreciated.

Caller: I most definitely will do that.

UCI: Okay great, thank you so much for participating in PrisonPandemic and um, we hope that you continue to stay safe in there, okay?

Caller: Okay, thank you.

UCI: Thank you.

01/21
It’s prison
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It’s prison

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Calipatria.

And yes it is difficult in many ways. I’ve been incarcerated for 19 years now, and been sentenced to LWOP so yes I’ve been through my ups and downs. But, yeah, this COVID pandemic has been horrible especially with us not being able to see our loved ones. It’s sad because you just can’t help but think of your loved ones out there and not being able to be there for them. So yes it does mess with you mentally, and that’s all they show on TV how people are dying of COVID by themselves. It’s sad.

My mom is diabetic and over the age of 65 years. Every time I get the chance to call, the majority of our phone time, I’m asking her to be careful, which I sometimes believe she gets tired of, but it’s OK. I love her and I also have my wife call her all the time, so I honestly just pray and leave it up to God to look out after them.

As for us in here? The majority of us have already tested positive for COVID. I tested positive back in November 19th. I really didn’t get that sick, but I did have the average symptoms, the no smell, can’t taste, but the worst part of it was that the prison didn’t really know what to do. They sent me to quarantine in a different yard by myself. They left my celly like if he wasn’t going to get it, so before they knew it the whole building had it. So they started moving everyone out to quarantine in a whole different yard until someone in the other yard got sick as well.

And also have us moving with one celly to another, getting us out of our comfort zone. And to top it off as soon as we quarantined for two weeks, they brought us back to our old yard and put us in a building with inmates who still have it?? Makes no sense.

So honestly, it’s been bad. I could say that besides not seeing my loved ones these last few months have been my worst. It is what it is. You have to maintain and be mentally strong, and then again it’s prison.

The full story

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Calipatria. Click the play button again to hear their full story.

Jan 24, 2021

Hello, how are you? I hope all is good and that this little letter finds you and your loved ones doing good in every way possible, but most importantly staying COVID free. Thank you for reaching out to me with a caring gesture. It’s always good to hear from other people besides loved ones, so thank you.

And yes it is difficult in many ways. I’ve been incarcerated for 19 years now, and been sentenced to LWOP so yes I’ve been through my ups and downs. But, yeah, this COVID pandemic has been horrible especially with us not being able to see our loved ones. It’s sad because you just can’t help but think of your loved ones out there and not being able to be there for them. So yes it does mess with you mentally, and that’s all they show on TV how people are dying of COVID by themselves. It’s sad.

My mom is diabetic and over the age of 65 years. Every time I get the chance to call, the majority of our phone time, I’m asking her to be careful, which I sometimes believe she gets tired of, but it’s OK. I love her and I also have my wife call her all the time, so I honestly just pray and leave it up to God to look out after them.

As for us in here? The majority of us have already tested positive for COVID. I tested positive back in November 19th. I really didn’t get that sick, but I did have the average symptoms, the no smell, can’t taste, but the worst part of it was that the prison didn’t really know what to do. They sent me to quarantine in a different yard by myself. They left my celly like if he wasn’t going to get it, so before they knew it the whole building had it. So they started moving everyone out to quarantine in a whole different yard until someone in the other yard got sick as well.

And also have us moving with one celly to another, getting us out of our comfort zone. And to top it off as soon as we quarantined for two weeks, they brought us back to our old yard and put us in a building with inmates who still have it?? Makes no sense.

So honestly, it’s been bad. I could say that besides not seeing my loved ones these last few months have been my worst. It is what it is. You have to maintain and be mentally strong, and then again it’s prison. But other than that I’m still alive and breathing, my loved ones are good, and it’s another beautiful day.

Thank you for your thoughts. Good thoughts are sent right back at you and your loved ones. I hope this is what you were asking for? If not let me know, and I will re-do it.

Best wishes to you, too!!

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