Chuckawalla

CHUCKAWALLA VALLEY STATE PRISON IS LOCATED IN BLYTHE, CA,
HOUSING 2,773 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,785 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 9 deaths, at this facility.

Stories from Chuckawalla

11/20
At a standstill
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At a standstill

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chuckawalla.

UCI: And how – how do you think COVID-19 has been handled by your facility, I mean, since the beginning of the outbreak?

Caller: Well, that – that’s in numerous ways, you know, all the self-help programs have stopped because of social distancing and they’re not allowing volunteers into the prison.

All of the vocational programs have stopped. And any in-college classes that we had had going on that – that at least for this facility had – that had just started to ramp up, those are all – those have all been shut down.

So you really only have as far as, like, self-improvement wise is correspondence college courses going on. Everything else is at a standstill.

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Caller: Well, okay. Well, where to start. I think the big part of why, like, a lot of the numbers are, like, really high in prison is because without getting into too many specifics, the facility isn’t – it isn’t designed for the type of quarantine or various health and safety measures that COVID-19 needs, you know?

We’re living in – well, at least I am – a dorm of 100 and some odd people up to 192 right now and, you know, with – with what we know about COVID-19 is, you know, while you’re indoors and with air circulation being what it is, you’re more susceptible to being – well, to catching it if you are indoors.

That’s why, you know, with all the restaurants and everything like that.

UCI: Right.

Caller: So with just one person getting it in a building, now that entire building has been exposed to – to the virus. And, so, at least at the facility that I’m at, you see the numbers just spike exponentially at one time because you – you’ll get one positive, for example, we’ve had – just had – we’ve just had this – we’ve had two positives, and then the next thing we know, we’re having 30 positives, 40, 100, and so on.

UCI: Okay. What – just a quick question: What facility are you currently housed at?

Caller: Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.

UCI: Okay. And, so, what – so did you say that you guys are housed, you know, up to more than 100 people.

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: Like do you think what is going on is okay?

Caller: No, not – not at all. It’s – it – because what – what they – their policy – at least medical policy is right now is that they – somebody catches the virus and that’s after, for example, they test – they tested us today. Well, they’re not going to get the results back until probably Monday.

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: So if one of us was positive in the building, we just – they just send us back to our building with the 190 something people that are in here, and now we’ve spent – whoever was positive has spent 72 hours exposing everybody in the building.

And, so, while a test is only a snapshot in time as if, okay, were you negative or positive on Friday, that is not necessarily the case for you being negative or positive on Monday.

UCI: Mm-hmm. And what is –

Caller: So –

UCI: And what is troubling you? Like, what’s the most concerning aspect about everything?

Caller: You know, it’s the – mainly it’s – it’s kind of the nonchalance that staff and – has – has with it, you know?

The – at least the custody staff. You know, a lot of the – the officers, they don’t take the virus seriously. They see it as a – a – like they’re – I know that – that part of it is if they catch the virus, then they get, like, 14 days paid leave. And, so, some of them that are younger are out and they don’t care if they get it because they know they’ll be paid for 14 days.

And, so, that puts the entire prison population at whatever prison they’re working at in jeopardy.

UCI: Right. Right. And how – how do you think COVID-19 has been handled by your facility, I mean, since the beginning of the outbreak?

Caller: Well, that – that’s in numerous ways, you know, all the self-help programs have stopped because of social distancing and they’re not allowing volunteers into the prison.

All of the vocational programs have stopped. And any in-college classes that we had had going on that – that at least for this facility had –

Caller: – that had just started to ramp up, those are all – those have all been shut down.

So you really only have as far as, like, self-improvement wise is correspondence college courses going on. Everything else is at a standstill.

UCI: Mm-hmm. And – and, so –

Caller: That’s – that’s probably the big…

UCI: And, so, how is it being handled differently now? I know you’ve already kind of explained, you know, how it’s being handled differently now, but, like, is there anything that, you know, that troubles you and concerns you about the mannerism that it’s being handled now?

Caller: Is there anything that concerns me about the manner it’s being handled?

UCI: Yeah.

Caller: Well, I think the big part of it that concerns me is – oh, man, that’s a big question. You know, it’s – it’s how – how all of the – the guys in here, you know, how their lives – because it – the virus is very serious and, you know, while some guys will catch it and they’ll get better, there are guys here that I know that are in the hospital right now.

And the manner that, you know, the custody staff is taking it, that medical is – they’re doing what they can, but they’re not helping really at all to – they’re kind – it’s almost begrudgingly, it feels, that they’re doing anything just so that they can show on paper at least that they’re doing something. I think that’s probably the – the most concerning part of it.

UCI: And if possible, could you please tell us month-by-month how the situation has changed at your facility?

Caller: Oh, well, at the beginning of the pandemic, so about March-ish, you know, we here at Chuckawalla, we’re – we’re out in the middle of nowhere, so, you know, there wasn’t – there wasn’t a whole lot going on here; you know? We got locked down, but there wasn’t – there was no cases for a while.

Going into the summer, though, two of the other yards here, they exploded really because of the dorm setting. And we’re now the fourth – the fourth highest in coronavirus cases –

UCI: Wow.

Caller: – throughout the pandemic. And that was just over the course of months and the – just a month or two during the summer.

And then now going into the winter, my – it – it hit – there’s four yards. It hit the – it hit A and B and then – and that was a few thousand cases right there. And then it hit just recently in about September, it really ran through C yard, and I’m on D yard, and it finally got to us. And, so, it’s just the – because of how kind of spread out we are as far as we don’t have any contact with the other yards, but the officers all bounce between the yards.

And, so, one positive officer can jump two yards and now he’s infected both yards. So that was a big – a big thing here. And now it’s just kind of running through – through our yard and we’re probably going to – I don’t think we’ll make the third number – the – I don’t think we’re going to be number three, but we’re still rising as far as coronavirus cases.

And then one of the other – I just recently learned on C yard that they’re going through it again. They’re getting another wave over there.

UCI: Oh, wow.

Caller: So it’s – yeah, it’s – it – it gets really bad when it does get bad.

UCI: And what would you think would make the situation at your facility better?

Caller: Oh, man. I guess the big – the – the big thing that would make it better is, you know, the addressing on prison overcrowding, that’s the big – the big one right there. That’s – but all that can’t happen, like, with the snap of a finger. I think if, you know, if the medical staff, they – they’re not – at least here – they – they don’t particularly follow the CDC guidelines as far as, like, we – we had somebody print them up and send them in as far as – as far as what to do with populations like ours, and they’re really just kind of flying in the face of everything that they’ve said as far as even on the CDC website.

So even if I’m sure if they did just the minimum that the CDC says to do, then things would be better.

UCI: Right, right. And how has the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones?

Caller: Well, I haven’t seen my parents or my grandparents or any of my family, you know, in really this entire year.

I think I saw them last in January. And then – and then with everything in the pandemic, so going on a year now I haven’t seen anybody. I’ve been able to talk to them on the phone. But other than that, I know that definitely weighs on my parents and my mom and my grandma in particular, my grandparents.

So – so that’s – I know that’s really tough on them and I know that’s – that’s really –

Caller: – really tough on the other guys here.

UCI: Yeah. And just – maybe just a quick another question?

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: How have you been coping with the crisis?

Caller: Just trying to get through it, you know, day-by-day. Just tryin’ to create like a schedule, you know, just kind of scheduling my days out, work out, do some homework with college, and watch TV.

Keep myself busy as – as much as I can.

UCI: Okay. Okay. Well, it is now 5:54. Thank you very much for participating in PrisonPandemic. I’m ending this call with this recording. I appreciate everything you told us and I wish you the best of luck in everything.

Caller: All right. Thank you.

UCI: Thank you. Have a good night.

Caller: All right. All right. You, too.

UCI: Thanks. Bye-bye.

Caller: All right. Bye.

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
Five masks
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Five masks

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chuckawalla.

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.

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.

The full story

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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
Haven’t seen anybody
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Haven’t seen anybody

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chuckawalla.

UCI: How has the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones?

Caller: Well, I haven’t seen my parents or my grandparents or any of my family, you know, in really this entire year.

I think I saw them last in January. And then – and then with everything in the pandemic, so going on a year now I haven’t seen anybody. I’ve been able to talk to them on the phone. But other than that, I know that definitely weighs on my parents and my mom and my grandma in particular, my grandparents.

So – so that’s – I know that’s really tough on them and I know that’s – that’s really tough on the other guys here.

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Caller: Well, okay. Well, where to start. I think the big part of why, like, a lot of the numbers are, like, really high in prison is because without getting into too many specifics, the facility isn’t – it isn’t designed for the type of quarantine or various health and safety measures that COVID-19 needs, you know?

We’re living in – well, at least I am – a dorm of 100 and some odd people up to 192 right now and, you know, with – with what we know about COVID-19 is, you know, while you’re indoors and with air circulation being what it is, you’re more susceptible to being – well, to catching it if you are indoors.

That’s why, you know, with all the restaurants and everything like that.

UCI: Right.

Caller: So with just one person getting it in a building, now that entire building has been exposed to – to the virus. And, so, at least at the facility that I’m at, you see the numbers just spike exponentially at one time because you – you’ll get one positive, for example, we’ve had – just had – we’ve just had this – we’ve had two positives, and then the next thing we know, we’re having 30 positives, 40, 100, and so on.

UCI: Okay. What – just a quick question: What facility are you currently housed at?

Caller: Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.

UCI: Okay. And, so, what – so did you say that you guys are housed, you know, up to more than 100 people.

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: Like do you think what is going on is okay?

Caller: No, not – not at all. It’s – it – because what – what they – their policy – at least medical policy is right now is that they – somebody catches the virus and that’s after, for example, they test – they tested us today. Well, they’re not going to get the results back until probably Monday.

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: So if one of us was positive in the building, we just – they just send us back to our building with the 190 something people that are in here, and now we’ve spent – whoever was positive has spent 72 hours exposing everybody in the building.

And, so, while a test is only a snapshot in time as if, okay, were you negative or positive on Friday, that is not necessarily the case for you being negative or positive on Monday.

UCI: Mm-hmm. And what is –

Caller: So –

UCI: And what is troubling you? Like, what’s the most concerning aspect about everything?

Caller: You know, it’s the – mainly it’s – it’s kind of the nonchalance that staff and – has – has with it, you know?

The – at least the custody staff. You know, a lot of the – the officers, they don’t take the virus seriously. They see it as a – a – like they’re – I know that – that part of it is if they catch the virus, then they get, like, 14 days paid leave. And, so, some of them that are younger are out and they don’t care if they get it because they know they’ll be paid for 14 days.

And, so, that puts the entire prison population at whatever prison they’re working at in jeopardy.

UCI: Right. Right. And how – how do you think COVID-19 has been handled by your facility, I mean, since the beginning of the outbreak?

Caller: Well, that – that’s in numerous ways, you know, all the self-help programs have stopped because of social distancing and they’re not allowing volunteers into the prison.

All of the vocational programs have stopped. And any in-college classes that we had had going on that – that at least for this facility had –

Caller: – that had just started to ramp up, those are all – those have all been shut down.

So you really only have as far as, like, self-improvement wise is correspondence college courses going on. Everything else is at a standstill.

UCI: Mm-hmm. And – and, so –

Caller: That’s – that’s probably the big…

UCI: And, so, how is it being handled differently now? I know you’ve already kind of explained, you know, how it’s being handled differently now, but, like, is there anything that, you know, that troubles you and concerns you about the mannerism that it’s being handled now?

Caller: Is there anything that concerns me about the manner it’s being handled?

UCI: Yeah.

Caller: Well, I think the big part of it that concerns me is – oh, man, that’s a big question. You know, it’s – it’s how – how all of the – the guys in here, you know, how their lives – because it – the virus is very serious and, you know, while some guys will catch it and they’ll get better, there are guys here that I know that are in the hospital right now.

And the manner that, you know, the custody staff is taking it, that medical is – they’re doing what they can, but they’re not helping really at all to – they’re kind – it’s almost begrudgingly, it feels, that they’re doing anything just so that they can show on paper at least that they’re doing something. I think that’s probably the – the most concerning part of it.

UCI: And if possible, could you please tell us month-by-month how the situation has changed at your facility?

Caller: Oh, well, at the beginning of the pandemic, so about March-ish, you know, we here at Chuckawalla, we’re – we’re out in the middle of nowhere, so, you know, there wasn’t – there wasn’t a whole lot going on here; you know? We got locked down, but there wasn’t – there was no cases for a while.

Going into the summer, though, two of the other yards here, they exploded really because of the dorm setting. And we’re now the fourth – the fourth highest in coronavirus cases –

UCI: Wow.

Caller: – throughout the pandemic. And that was just over the course of months and the – just a month or two during the summer.

And then now going into the winter, my – it – it hit – there’s four yards. It hit the – it hit A and B and then – and that was a few thousand cases right there. And then it hit just recently in about September, it really ran through C yard, and I’m on D yard, and it finally got to us. And, so, it’s just the – because of how kind of spread out we are as far as we don’t have any contact with the other yards, but the officers all bounce between the yards.

And, so, one positive officer can jump two yards and now he’s infected both yards. So that was a big – a big thing here. And now it’s just kind of running through – through our yard and we’re probably going to – I don’t think we’ll make the third number – the – I don’t think we’re going to be number three, but we’re still rising as far as coronavirus cases.

And then one of the other – I just recently learned on C yard that they’re going through it again. They’re getting another wave over there.

UCI: Oh, wow.

Caller: So it’s – yeah, it’s – it – it gets really bad when it does get bad.

UCI: And what would you think would make the situation at your facility better?

Caller: Oh, man. I guess the big – the – the big thing that would make it better is, you know, the addressing on prison overcrowding, that’s the big – the big one right there. That’s – but all that can’t happen, like, with the snap of a finger. I think if, you know, if the medical staff, they – they’re not – at least here – they – they don’t particularly follow the CDC guidelines as far as, like, we – we had somebody print them up and send them in as far as – as far as what to do with populations like ours, and they’re really just kind of flying in the face of everything that they’ve said as far as even on the CDC website.

So even if I’m sure if they did just the minimum that the CDC says to do, then things would be better.

UCI: Right, right. And how has the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones?

Caller: Well, I haven’t seen my parents or my grandparents or any of my family, you know, in really this entire year.

I think I saw them last in January. And then – and then with everything in the pandemic, so going on a year now I haven’t seen anybody. I’ve been able to talk to them on the phone. But other than that, I know that definitely weighs on my parents and my mom and my grandma in particular, my grandparents.

So – so that’s – I know that’s really tough on them and I know that’s – that’s really –

Caller: – really tough on the other guys here.

UCI: Yeah. And just – maybe just a quick another question?

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: How have you been coping with the crisis?

Caller: Just trying to get through it, you know, day-by-day. Just tryin’ to create like a schedule, you know, just kind of scheduling my days out, work out, do some homework with college, and watch TV.

Keep myself busy as – as much as I can.

UCI: Okay. Okay. Well, it is now 5:54. Thank you very much for participating in PrisonPandemic. I’m ending this call with this recording. I appreciate everything you told us and I wish you the best of luck in everything.

Caller: All right. Thank you.

UCI: Thank you. Have a good night.

Caller: All right. All right. You, too.

UCI: Thanks. Bye-bye.

Caller: All right. Bye.

03/20
Not worried about us
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Not worried about us

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chuckawalla.

UCI: And how was COVID-19 handled at your facility at the beginning of the outbreak? So, like how did they handle it in March in the beginning when we first started finding out all this information?

Caller: Well, like the beginning of March, they weren’t really doing nothing. They didn’t pass out like no masks, no nothing. They started passing out, they started giving us masks when people were getting sick already. That’s when they were, yeah, that’s when they started like, you know, supposedly like trying to take it serious. But they weren’t really taking it too serious because they were still mixing the yards. They were still allowing other people from other yards to come to this yard. And like they were like moving people around. You know, when other, when the people they were moving over here, they were already sick. And that’s how we all started getting sick.

So, they really didn’t, you know, control nothing. They just didn’t care. They didn’t really know what they were really doing. They were just mixing people.

And that’s how …No, they just – and that’s how a lot of people started getting sick. And that’s how I ended catching it.

UCI: Is it being handled differently nowadays, you think? Or do you think it’s the same thing?

Caller: I think it’s the same thing because they’re still like – what they want to do right now, starting next week, what they want to do is they want to start sending people to work.

Sending people to it. People that are like in education. They want to start sending people to education. You know.

When some of these teachers, some of these food staff are now trying to come in. But they’re still like forcing us like to go work and to go to education. And if we don’t go, they’re threatening us with write ups instead of giving us an option like you want to go or to work or you want … Or like people that are in education, like give us an option to go to school or be able to work, and we’ll do it in the building.

You know, but they’re threatening us with write, they’re threatening us with write up. And the majority of people are lifers. Like myself, I’m a lifer. So, say like if I had a job, or like if I was in education, they’re going to threaten me with a write up. And that’s like a denial for me, like a five-year denial for board. Like that would hold me back from not going home.

And I think that that’s kind of, and I think that’s kind of messed up. You know, I don’t think it’s fair because it’s like they’re not worried about us. Like they don’t even care if something really happens to us or we end up dying. Or something, you know. And I think it’s wrong.

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Caller: Oh, I mean I’m in Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.

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

Caller: Like if I got the COVID-19? I had got it.

UCI: You’ve gotten COVID-19?

Caller: Yes. I got it in May.

UCI: And how is your facility dealing with the situation? Like are they doing anything to prevent you guys from getting it?

Caller: Actually, they’re not really like doing nothing. They’re more like mixing people from like other yards.

Like they’re bringing people that were sick from the COVID to our …

They were mixing us. And that’s how I ended up catching it. And what they’re doing, a lot of these correction officers are letting people from other buildings, they’re allowing other inmates to come in our building.

And people end up catching it like that. And that’s how I ended up catching it. There’s a lot of correction officers that don’t wear a mask. You know, they’re telling other inmates to put on their mask, but they’re the ones bringing it in. And they’re not wearing their mask.

UCI: Yeah. And what is troubling our concerning to you about this situation?

Caller: Well, I don’t think they’re doing their job right. I don’t think they’re being like that professional. You know? Because it’s like they don’t really care about us. You know, so I think what they need to do is like plan out the program a little more. Not letting other inmates come into our building that don’t even belong in this building. You know?

UCI: Right, yeah.

Caller: And for them to stop mixing people from other yards.

Like for them bringing other people from other yards over here to this yard. Because that’s how they’re getting other people sick. That’s how I think everybody’s getting sick because the numbers keep going higher and higher. And then it’s costing more deaths. And they’re not like really taking too many things too serious. Now they’re like, like if it’s a joke when it’s not a joke.

UCI: Right, it’s not.

And how was COVID-19 handled at your facility at the beginning of the outbreak? So, like how did they handle it in March in the beginning when we first started finding out all this information?

Caller: Well, like the beginning of March, they weren’t really doing nothing. They didn’t pass out like no masks, no nothing. They started passing out, they started giving us masks when people were getting sick already.

UCI: Got it.

Caller: That’s when they were, yeah, that’s when they started like, you know, supposedly like trying to take it serious. But they weren’t really taking it too serious because they were still mixing the yards. They were still allowing other people from other yards to come to this yard. And like they were like moving people around. You know, when other, when the people they were moving over here, they were already sick. And that’s how we all started getting sick.

So, they really didn’t, you know, control nothing. They just didn’t care. They didn’t really know what they were really doing. They were just mixing people.

UCI: Right.

Caller: And that’s how …

UCI: What was that?

Caller: No, they just – and that’s how a lot of people started getting sick. And that’s how I ended catching it.

UCI: Yeah. Is it being handled differently nowadays, you think? Or do you think it’s the same thing?

Caller: I think it’s the same thing because they’re still like – what they want to do right now, starting next week, what they want to do is they want to start sending people to work.

UCI: Oh, got it.

Caller: Sending people to it. People that are like in education. They want to start sending people to education. You know.

When some of these teachers, some of these food staff are now trying to come in. But they’re still like forcing us like to go work and to go to education. And if we don’t go, they’re threatening us with write ups instead of giving us an option like you want to go or to work or you want … Or like people that are in education, like give us an option to go to school or be able to work, and we’ll do it in the building.

You know, but they’re threatening us with write, they’re threatening us with write up. And the majority of people are lifers. Like myself, I’m a lifer. So, say like if I had a job, or like if I was in education, they’re going to threaten me with a write up. And that’s like a denial for me, like a five-year denial for board. Like that would hold me back from not going home.

UCI: Got it.

Caller: And I think that that’s kind of, and I think that’s kind of messed up.

UCI: That is wrong, yeah.

Caller: You know, I don’t think it’s fair because it’s like they’re not worried about us. Like they don’t even care if something really happens to us or we end up dying. Or something, you know.

UCI: Yeah.

Caller: And I think it’s wrong.

UCI: It is wrong, yeah. I agree. If possible, could you please tell us month by month how the situation has changed? But it seems like the situation hasn’t changed much at your facility? Like just seems like it’s the same thing, right?

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: Okay. So, what would make the, what do you think would make the situation at your facility better? Like what do you think that they should do?

Caller: What they should do, I think they should stop mixing the buildings. Like they, what they need to stop doing is letting other inmates from other buildings come inside our building.

Or like people that don’t have jobs, they’re just like volunteering to come outside and work. You know, what I think they should do is make these officers really take this serious and really wear their masks, because there’re lieutenants in here that don’t even wear a mask. And say like if you have a job, and if it’s this building where I’m at, our workday is tomorrow, just let this building come out and work.

And as soon as we come in, bring them all in and let the other building come out. And for them to stay out there and let those buildings come out. Don’t let nobody, no volunteers come out and work out there because it’s all three buildings. All volunteers are coming out to together and they’re all mixing them. And they’re letting other buildings, other inmates from other buildings come inside our building. And I don’t think it’s fair because that person could be sick and get everybody sick.

What they need to do is time that up and not let nobody come in. If you don’t belong in the building, don’t come in. You know? Stay out there in your building. You know, and these officers, they’re out there like in the yard without a mask talking to inmates. You know, without a mask. And then if we don’t have a mask, they start yelling at us or they start threatening us like yeah, we’re going to give you a write up if you don’t have a mask.

But it’s okay for them to not have a mask? I don’t think it’s okay because we’re not the ones bringing in the sickness. It’s them. They’re the ones that …

UCI: Exactly.

Caller: You know, so they’re not taking too many things serious. They need to tying up a little more, you know.

UCI: Yeah, I agree.

Caller: That’s what I think. You know, and these officers, they think it’s kind of funny. They don’t take things too, too serious. You know?

UCI: Yeah.

Caller: And it hurts too, you know, because I felt bad, you know, like it was hurting me, you know. All I did is thinking about my family, thinking about my daughter. Like thinking about what’s going to happen to me. You know, I was in so much pain, I was getting fevers. I was getting the chills. My bones were hurting. And it really hurts man.

You know, it’s an ugly feeling. I’m saying like I’ll lay down and then like I’ll call my family. I’ll cry to my family. Like I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, you know, I just want to tell you guys I love you. Something happens or anything, you know.

UCI: Yeah.

Caller: And it’s messed up.

UCI: It really is. It’s not right.

Caller: You know, they’re not taking this too serious. They think it’s a joke. It’s not a joke. People are dying left and right out there in the world while we’re stuck in here.

You know, it’s messed up.

UCI: Yeah. Like how has the situation at your facility affected your loved ones? Like did they take away visits from you?

Caller: They took our family visits. They took a lot of things from us. Like, you know, but the main thing is like our visits, you know. We can’t see our families.

It’s been, we’re going almost like, almost a year, you know. Maybe January, February will be two years. It’ll be a whole year without a visit. You know, without us seeing our family. You know, and they’re not planning …

Giving us a visit soon. So, you know, it kind of hurts a lot, you know?

UCI: Right. How do you think your loved ones feel about the situation?

Caller: I just want them to do something. It’s going to hang up …

UCI: Okay, I just want to say thank you so much for participating in the PrisonPandemic study, okay?

Caller: Thank you.

UCI: Wish you the best, thank you. Bye.

Caller: You know, for listening and everything. Yeah.

UCI: Thank you so much.

Caller: You take good care of yourself out there.

UCI: Okay, thank you. You too. Bye.

Caller: Okay. Thank you. Bye.

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