CMC

CALIFORNIA MEN'S COLONY IS LOCATED IN SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA,
HOUSING 3,758 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 2,474 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 10 deaths, at this facility.

Stories from CMC

02/21
Caught off guard
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Caught off guard

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This story was told by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony).

UCI: How has your facility handled COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak and then till now? Has it changed at all?

Caller: I think that in the beginning of the outbreak as well as with the rest of the nation, CDC got caught off guard. There was a lot of procedures that were just dumped on us. But they didn’t stop school in the beginning. Then they stopped the schools.

Then they started trying to enforce yards but maybe trying to tell the population to just keep social distance, which really didn’t happen not even a month after. Then they finally say wear the mask and start doing announcements every morning. Like at 6 o’clock until it became like you have to wear the mask, mandatory. But it wasn’t really like it was enforced as much amongst the staff. It was more like the inmates have to wear it.

You see the staff a bunch it was like debates between well we can never give COVID to one another, is only the staff that bring it in so once- once they stay away from us we will be safe. Then as it progress there was a few outbreaks that prompt the change of regulations.

Like, first it was like three buildings able to go to yard together but then it was just two buildings, one in the lower yard, one in the upper yard. Then it was to quarantine people in place so that if let’s say if, in foxyard there was there is 10 buildings so there will be building 10, building three that can go out, that couldn’t go to phones. They went to eat their meals after everybody was done because they have potential COVID within them.

They pretty much were secluded from everybody else. And so they progress minimally until they started sending people to next dorm to be quarantine and isolation in single cells. Not that it helped much because we get the COVID from staff.

The full story

Go Back

This story was told by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony). Click the play button again to hear their full story.

UCI: What’s the current COVID situation at your facility?

Caller: We had a quarantine. Right now we are on a modified program.

UCI: How has your facility handled COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak and then till now? Has it changed at all?

Caller: I think that in the beginning of the outbreak as well as with the rest of the nation, CDC got caught off guard. There was a lot of procedures that were just dumped on us. But they didn’t stop school in the beginning. Then they stopped the schools.

Then they started trying to enforce yards but maybe trying to tell the population to just keep social distance, which really didn’t happen not even a month after. Then they finally say wear the mask and start doing announcements every morning. Like at 6 o’clock until it became like you have to wear the mask, mandatory. But it wasn’t really like it was enforced as much amongst the staff. It was more like the inmates have to wear it.

You see the staff a bunch it was like debates between well we can never give COVID to one another, is only the staff that bring it in so once- once they stay away from us we will be safe. Then as it progress there was a few outbreaks that prompt the change of regulations.

Like, first it was like three buildings able to go to yard together but then it was just two buildings, one in the lower yard, one in the upper yard. Then it was to quarantine people in place so that if let’s say if, in foxyard there was there is 10 buildings so there will be building 10, building three that can go out, that couldn’t go to phones. They went to eat their meals after everybody was done because they have potential COVID within them.

They pretty much were secluded from everybody else. And so they progress minimally until they started sending people to next dorm to be quarantine and isolation in single cells. Not that it helped much because we get the COVID from staff.

So, the now what they’re permanently doing, is that if somebody gets COVID, they quarantine that building, send everybody as they find them and then test them and check vitals everyday to see if there is any signs of COVID among the people that live together.

Being dorm living is restricted to 65 people per dorm. And they have separate rearranged the living quarters to have pods, which is what they call it, which is every six bunks they are bunched up together and there is a space in between them that is six feet apart.

But you have let’s say bunk 12, 13, 14 in regular spacing, which is about three feet from one another. And then you have lower, which is you and your bunkee within three feet. And then there is space and then it will be 16, 17, 18 all together then another space, six feet. So it is not really like isolation as they seem.

UCI: How have you been coping with the crisis inside?

Caller: I think I have been taking the mantle of activism. It’s one of the reasons why I’m telling this. We have done 602s, we have done a little bit of like awareness on they are, as opposed to couple of months back but nobody had a hope of seeing anything.

I think that ultimately I just kinda stick to my friends and just sit down on my bunk and try to be as clean as possible. Just stay away from the guards all together because I know that my peers can’t really give it to me unless they are talking to them, I just kind of stay away from those who want to be talking to people in the office all the time. But I’m into doing things that are both spiritually-minded and practical.

UCI: How had the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones and your visitation with them?

Caller: Well, even the fact that I went to quarantine a couple of weeks back, it was a little frustrating for my family not knowing what happened to me cause I used to call them weekly. And then I went to quarantine and they didn’t know whether I had COVID or not. I only got a message through somebody else. Which I had to trust with my family’s phone number to let them know that I left for what I thought that was two weeks. It ended up being 23 days.

So we went through it. There was a little stress. I’m not gonna say that it wasn’t, but we came out stronger. At least that’s what I believe in. And my visitation, well, we haven’t got a visit since like March. I haven’t seen my family since like forever. I’ve been down in for like 13 years now in October and not even the prospect of video visits.

Video computers in our visiting room, and they are always full, we only can get visiting once a month in the video calls. So that is pretty much it. I don’t see no hope of ever seeing my family until this is over because every time that we have the hope of the yard opening up, we get cleared at the levels according to the guidelines of CDCR, somebody commits a mistake, somebody doesn’t get tested, or comes back and tests positive.

What I hear is like they test them in the morning, and then two hours later they tell them, “Hey you got COVID, get out of there”. But we are already exposed, so we go back again FCOM three, or whatever they wanna call it.

And we just get locked down, so there’s no program. There’s no program, there’s no visits.

UCI: I understand. And do you have any ideas about what could potentially make the situation better at your facility?

Caller: Situation better at my facility as far as COVID or as far as visits?

UCI: Well, I guess COVID and how it’s affected your, you can talk about how it has affected your visits. Whatever you think that would better, their handling of COVID, I guess.

Caller: I mean, I think they staff needs to be directed to obey these rules. Maybe some type of quick tests. I know the test is really expensive. It’s like $150 for the quick test. But, we shouldn’t be exposed to staff that is potentially sick inside the facility, if they are supposed to be in charge of protecting us. Then they shouldn’t be allowed in until they know for sure that they are negative.

I hear that staff out there is not really following the regulations of social gathering. So that should be somewhat enforced and maybe looked into in some type of way, to say that if you are a public servant and you come into a facility, that you need to follow these guidelines so that no other person dies. Because life is precious.

But it also costs the department a lot every time that an incarcerated person dies. In the facility, there have been COVID-related deaths, even if it isn’t like, based on like I checked out with COVID but because of the other symptoms COVID brings. It adds issues to whatever other health issues that person has, they died, because they contracted COVID and made their condition worse.

So, I think that they should enforce a little bit more the security, and the way that people, they work in the prison system, is doing their sanitary and other safety concerns and procedures.

UCI: Thank you. And is there anything else that you want to share with anyone about your experience?

Caller: I think that when I went to CMC East, which is the wing for the isolation, C yard. They need to do a better job at maintaining the rest of the routine while you’re on isolation, like when we were down there, we never had clothing and some change.

The first wave was never allowed to keep their property. There was an unsanitary issue where they got all the trash with the PPE COVID and they destroy it together with the regular trash, and I guess the seagulls got in the trash. There was PPE garments all over the yard which they had to train.

There’s a lot of things that they could solve, they’re not doing right now. Maybe call you later, tell you more about it.

02/21
Life is precious
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Life is precious

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This story was told by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony).

UCI: I understand. And do you have any ideas about what could potentially make the situation better at your facility?

Caller: Situation better at my facility as far as COVID or as far as visits?

UCI: Well, I guess COVID and how it’s affected your, you can talk about how it has affected your visits. Whatever you think that would better, their handling of COVID, I guess.

Caller: I mean, I think they staff needs to be directed to obey these rules. Maybe some type of quick tests. I know the test is really expensive. It’s like $150 for the quick test. But, we shouldn’t be exposed to staff that is potentially sick inside the facility, if they are supposed to be in charge of protecting us. Then they shouldn’t be allowed in until they know for sure that they are negative.

I hear that staff out there is not really following the regulations of social gathering. So that should be somewhat enforced and maybe looked into in some type of way, to say that if you are a public servant and you come into a facility, that you need to follow these guidelines so that no other person dies. Because life is precious.

But it also costs the department a lot every time that an incarcerated person dies. In the facility, there have been COVID-related deaths, even if it isn’t like, based on like I checked out with COVID but because of the other symptoms COVID brings. It adds issues to whatever other health issues that person has, they died, because they contracted COVID and made their condition worse.

So, I think that they should enforce a little bit more the security, and the way that people, they work in the prison system, is doing their sanitary and other safety concerns and procedures.

UCI: Thank you. And is there anything else that you want to share with anyone about your experience?

Caller: I think that when I went to CMC East, which is the wing for the isolation, C yard. They need to do a better job at maintaining the rest of the routine while you’re on isolation, like when we were down there, we never had clothing and some change.

The first wave was never allowed to keep their property. There was an unsanitary issue where they got all the trash with the PPE COVID and they destroy it together with the regular trash, and I guess the seagulls got in the trash. There was PPE garments all over the yard which they had to train.

There’s a lot of things that they could solve, they’re not doing right now. Maybe call you later, tell you more about it.

The full story

Go Back

This story was told by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony). Click the play button again to hear their full story.

UCI: What’s the current COVID situation at your facility?

Caller: We had a quarantine. Right now we are on a modified program.

UCI: How has your facility handled COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak and then till now? Has it changed at all?

Caller: I think that in the beginning of the outbreak as well as with the rest of the nation, CDC got caught off guard. There was a lot of procedures that were just dumped on us. But they didn’t stop school in the beginning. Then they stopped the schools.

Then they started trying to enforce yards but maybe trying to tell the population to just keep social distance, which really didn’t happen not even a month after. Then they finally say wear the mask and start doing announcements every morning. Like at 6 o’clock until it became like you have to wear the mask, mandatory. But it wasn’t really like it was enforced as much amongst the staff. It was more like the inmates have to wear it.

You see the staff a bunch it was like debates between well we can never give COVID to one another, is only the staff that bring it in so once- once they stay away from us we will be safe. Then as it progress there was a few outbreaks that prompt the change of regulations.

Like, first it was like three buildings able to go to yard together but then it was just two buildings, one in the lower yard, one in the upper yard. Then it was to quarantine people in place so that if let’s say if, in foxyard there was there is 10 buildings so there will be building 10, building three that can go out, that couldn’t go to phones. They went to eat their meals after everybody was done because they have potential COVID within them.

They pretty much were secluded from everybody else. And so they progress minimally until they started sending people to next dorm to be quarantine and isolation in single cells. Not that it helped much because we get the COVID from staff.

So, the now what they’re permanently doing, is that if somebody gets COVID, they quarantine that building, send everybody as they find them and then test them and check vitals everyday to see if there is any signs of COVID among the people that live together.

Being dorm living is restricted to 65 people per dorm. And they have separate rearranged the living quarters to have pods, which is what they call it, which is every six bunks they are bunched up together and there is a space in between them that is six feet apart.

But you have let’s say bunk 12, 13, 14 in regular spacing, which is about three feet from one another. And then you have lower, which is you and your bunkee within three feet. And then there is space and then it will be 16, 17, 18 all together then another space, six feet. So it is not really like isolation as they seem.

UCI: How have you been coping with the crisis inside?

Caller: I think I have been taking the mantle of activism. It’s one of the reasons why I’m telling this. We have done 602s, we have done a little bit of like awareness on they are, as opposed to couple of months back but nobody had a hope of seeing anything.

I think that ultimately I just kinda stick to my friends and just sit down on my bunk and try to be as clean as possible. Just stay away from the guards all together because I know that my peers can’t really give it to me unless they are talking to them, I just kind of stay away from those who want to be talking to people in the office all the time. But I’m into doing things that are both spiritually-minded and practical.

UCI: How had the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones and your visitation with them?

Caller: Well, even the fact that I went to quarantine a couple of weeks back, it was a little frustrating for my family not knowing what happened to me cause I used to call them weekly. And then I went to quarantine and they didn’t know whether I had COVID or not. I only got a message through somebody else. Which I had to trust with my family’s phone number to let them know that I left for what I thought that was two weeks. It ended up being 23 days.

So we went through it. There was a little stress. I’m not gonna say that it wasn’t, but we came out stronger. At least that’s what I believe in. And my visitation, well, we haven’t got a visit since like March. I haven’t seen my family since like forever. I’ve been down in for like 13 years now in October and not even the prospect of video visits.

Video computers in our visiting room, and they are always full, we only can get visiting once a month in the video calls. So that is pretty much it. I don’t see no hope of ever seeing my family until this is over because every time that we have the hope of the yard opening up, we get cleared at the levels according to the guidelines of CDCR, somebody commits a mistake, somebody doesn’t get tested, or comes back and tests positive.

What I hear is like they test them in the morning, and then two hours later they tell them, “Hey you got COVID, get out of there”. But we are already exposed, so we go back again FCOM three, or whatever they wanna call it.

And we just get locked down, so there’s no program. There’s no program, there’s no visits.

UCI: I understand. And do you have any ideas about what could potentially make the situation better at your facility?

Caller: Situation better at my facility as far as COVID or as far as visits?

UCI: Well, I guess COVID and how it’s affected your, you can talk about how it has affected your visits. Whatever you think that would better, their handling of COVID, I guess.

Caller: I mean, I think they staff needs to be directed to obey these rules. Maybe some type of quick tests. I know the test is really expensive. It’s like $150 for the quick test. But, we shouldn’t be exposed to staff that is potentially sick inside the facility, if they are supposed to be in charge of protecting us. Then they shouldn’t be allowed in until they know for sure that they are negative.

I hear that staff out there is not really following the regulations of social gathering. So that should be somewhat enforced and maybe looked into in some type of way, to say that if you are a public servant and you come into a facility, that you need to follow these guidelines so that no other person dies. Because life is precious.

But it also costs the department a lot every time that an incarcerated person dies. In the facility, there have been COVID-related deaths, even if it isn’t like, based on like I checked out with COVID but because of the other symptoms COVID brings. It adds issues to whatever other health issues that person has, they died, because they contracted COVID and made their condition worse.

So, I think that they should enforce a little bit more the security, and the way that people, they work in the prison system, is doing their sanitary and other safety concerns and procedures.

UCI: Thank you. And is there anything else that you want to share with anyone about your experience?

Caller: I think that when I went to CMC East, which is the wing for the isolation, C yard. They need to do a better job at maintaining the rest of the routine while you’re on isolation, like when we were down there, we never had clothing and some change.

The first wave was never allowed to keep their property. There was an unsanitary issue where they got all the trash with the PPE COVID and they destroy it together with the regular trash, and I guess the seagulls got in the trash. There was PPE garments all over the yard which they had to train.

There’s a lot of things that they could solve, they’re not doing right now. Maybe call you later, tell you more about it.

01/21
Coming to terms
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Coming to terms

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony).

Our lives in here (when we’re allowed what one would refer to as recreation activity) between 40 and 50 minutes of yard every day, 15 of which (if one can gain access) will be spent on the telephone. Otherwise, we’re allowed to walk around the yard – staying six feet apart, mind you, which on its face doesn’t comport with common sense, because science says none of us have it, and the only way we’ll get it is in close contact with staff.

Being that I’m currently on lockdown, the only out-of-cell time I am allowed is a 15-minute shower every 72 hours. That’s it.

Now, as ex-gang members from Los Angeles, and realizing the harms I inflicted upon not only my victims, but society as a whole, do I have a right to complain? No. And to be frank, I’m not. I get pissed at times, but at the end of the day, I put myself here.

While COVID-19 and its surrounding hassles may not be liked, people in society are currently facing far worse. I’ve come to understand what pain is and suffering is. Because I was asymptomatic, I’ve suffered no great loss. I still get fed three meals (even though I have my own food), I have a warm bed and a television. Not to mention a typewriter.

Corona has been a horrible disaster reeked upon the lives of those most vulnerable and this is the part that really bothers me. The number of businesses lost, the deaths, and the people shuttled to and from hospitals like cattle. These are the things that trouble me. Men, women, and children that no longer have the reliance of a steady (if not wobbly) pay check that was once there, now (like so many others that are less fortunate) have to wait for food banks and the like (if they have access at one) or risk going without, period. These are the things that bother me now.

Where once I was so selfish and all too consumed with me, I now look at the world and as Black man I am deeply ashamed at what I not only contributed to (regarding gangs and the like) but likewise the potential wasted. Lives are being lost on a daily, while others are constantly being affected, and it is with this backdrop that I cannot honestly complain.

COVID-19 has been a terrible, almost haunting, disease, and given the fact that a majority of the corrections officers – I can’t say for sure if it’s officials too, officials being the administrators, but a lot of the officers say they simply will not take the vaccine. Me too, don’t get me wrong, but still.

Given this mentality, the disease will in fact persist for at least another year or more. But here’s the kicker: With staff, many of whom refuse to wear a mask out in society, which is like, ‘Okay, that’s your choice.’ But, because they don’t wear a mask, and if they test positive, then they have to get furloughed – for which they don’t get paid. So, it’s directly affecting their paycheck.

Yet, so many believe what they want to believe. Thank you President Trump and Fox News. One would be remiss to throw a rock in here and not hit a correctional officer that (all, if not most, related to law enforcement are Republican by nature), believes that the virus is in fact a hoax. Really.

The deaths, flooding of hospitals, none of these register on the scale of reality. Don’t misunderstand, around administrators they are told to wear masks, but how often do administrators come around, for one, and two, at best it’ll only affect inmates. At least we believe that’s the rationale.

The full story

Go Back

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony). Click the play button again to hear their full story.

UCI Student,

First and foremost, I pray that my words find you and all those concerned with the welfare of those of us incarcerated, in good health. It is, in my own way, an underestimated blessing.

One of the brothers was kind enough to pass your words along, figuring I’d be interested in writing, so here I am.

To begin, COVID-19, and its surrounding effects are surreal at best. Never could one have imagined – save a fiction writer, that those of us in prison would have so many restrictions impairing our lives… both directly and indirectly related to society.

Directly, because the pandemic, the virus itself has reached us. I myself had it, though I was asymptomatic, nevertheless the bug bit me. I was moved from my housing unit, and rehoused in a quarantine building, for a period of 28 days. The catch is, I actually caught COVID in quarantine.

The night I left they were doing random temperature checks. I’d just drunk a cup of tea, so quite naturally my body temp was a little high (98.3), and once this was reported to the main nurse, they decided to move me to the quarantine building under the falsehood that my temp would be checked the very next morning. It was. I wasn’t moved.

Unfortunately, everybody over there actually had it, and since the prison (at the time) had absolutely no cleaning ritual (they’ve since adopted a makeshift cleaning response – which is only slightly better), I was housed with and around men that not only displayed the symptoms, some of whom had to be hospitalized, I ended up getting the virus as well.

At best the rehousing wasn’t a horrible episode, time-consuming maybe, a hassle for sure, but the problem is that we only catch it (and this is one of the indirect responses) because staff absolutely (most of them) refuse to wear masks. Some men have died. One, a lifer like myself, the board didn’t want to give him a compassionate release, died mere weeks before he was set to be released. I had to witness and experience the heartache behind this tragedy.

Now truth be told I am unable to see loved ones during this period, but I am not one to get many visits as it is. After 30-plus years, the only concerns I have is whether or not they’re okay; I don’t actually need to see them. But the keeping in touch with them has been greatly affected, because like now, even though I just tested negative, we’ve been (excuse me) were quarantined because a man in this building tested positive.

After testing us, and even though the test came back negative, they quit dispensing with the semantics and just placed us on lockdown. No man left (according to science…) has quarantined, yet we’re locked down. That isn’t the only tragedy. Well, not the only one in a line of many.

But, if a man has board or any related activity, he can not go to board. Again, this is after testing negative, which will cause him to spend at least another six months or so in prison. We have to remember, though, we’re only talking about inmates. Right?

Our lives in here (when we’re allowed what one would refer to as recreation activity) between 40 and 50 minutes of yard every day, 15 of which (if one can gain access) will be spent on the telephone. Otherwise, we’re allowed to walk around the yard – staying six feet apart, mind you, which on its face doesn’t comport with common sense, because science says none of us have it, and the only way we’ll get it is in close contact with staff.

Being that I’m currently on lockdown, the only out-of-cell time I am allowed is a 15-minute shower every 72 hours. That’s it.

Now, as ex-gang members from Los Angeles, and realizing the harms I inflicted upon not only my victims, but society as a whole, do I have a right to complain? No. And to be frank, I’m not. I get pissed at times, but at the end of the day, I put myself here.

While COVID-19 and its surrounding hassles may not be liked, people in society are currently facing far worse. I’ve come to understand what pain is and suffering is. Because I was asymptomatic, I’ve suffered no great loss. I still get fed three meals (even though I have my own food), I have a warm bed and a television. Not to mention a typewriter.

Corona has been a horrible disaster reeked upon the lives of those most vulnerable and this is the part that really bothers me. The number of businesses lost, the deaths, and the people shuttled to and from hospitals like cattle. These are the things that trouble me. Men, women, and children that no longer have the reliance of a steady (if not wobbly) pay check that was once there, now (like so many others that are less fortunate) have to wait for food banks and the like (if they have access at one) or risk going without, period. These are the things that bother me now.

Where once I was so selfish and all too consumed with me, I now look at the world and as Black man I am deeply ashamed at what I not only contributed to (regarding gangs and the like) but likewise the potential wasted. Lives are being lost on a daily, while others are constantly being affected, and it is with this backdrop that I cannot honestly complain.

COVID-19 has been a terrible, almost haunting, disease, and given the fact that a majority of the corrections officers – I can’t say for sure if it’s officials too, officials being the administrators, but a lot of the officers say they simply will not take the vaccine. Me too, don’t get me wrong, but still.

Given this mentality, the disease will in fact persist for at least another year or more. But here’s the kicker: With staff, many of whom refuse to wear a mask out in society, which is like, ‘Okay, that’s your choice.’ But, because they don’t wear a mask, and if they test positive, then they have to get furloughed – for which they don’t get paid. So, it’s directly affecting their paycheck.

Yet, so many believe what they want to believe. Thank you President Trump and Fox News. One would be remiss to throw a rock in here and not hit a correctional officer that (all, if not most, related to law enforcement are Republican by nature), believes that the virus is in fact a hoax. Really.

The deaths, flooding of hospitals, none of these register on the scale of reality. Don’t misunderstand, around administrators they are told to wear masks, but how often do administrators come around, for one, and two, at best it’ll only affect inmates. At least we believe that’s the rationale.

Anyhow, I don’t know if you’ll be able to use this or not. Again, thank you for being concerned with those of us that are here, because believe it or not, while many of us (at one point) behaved inhumane, there are those of us who’ve gotten our humanity back.

Take care.

02/21
Not really isolation
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Not really isolation

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This story was told by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony).

Caller: Now what they’re permanently doing, is that if somebody gets COVID, they quarantine that building, send everybody as they find them and then test them and check vitals everyday to see if there is any signs of COVID among the people that live together.

Being dorm living is restricted to 65 people per dorm. And they have separate rearranged the living quarters to have pods, which is what they call it, which is every six bunks they are bunched up together and there is a space in between them that is six feet apart.

But you have let’s say bunk 12, 13, 14 in regular spacing, which is about three feet from one another. And then you have lower, which is you and your bunkee within three feet. And then there is space and then it will be 16, 17, 18 all together then another space, six feet. So it is not really like isolation as they seem.

The full story

Go Back

This story was told by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony). Click the play button again to hear their full story.

UCI: What’s the current COVID situation at your facility?

Caller: We had a quarantine. Right now we are on a modified program.

UCI: How has your facility handled COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak and then till now? Has it changed at all?

Caller: I think that in the beginning of the outbreak as well as with the rest of the nation, CDC got caught off guard. There was a lot of procedures that were just dumped on us. But they didn’t stop school in the beginning. Then they stopped the schools.

Then they started trying to enforce yards but maybe trying to tell the population to just keep social distance, which really didn’t happen not even a month after. Then they finally say wear the mask and start doing announcements every morning. Like at 6 o’clock until it became like you have to wear the mask, mandatory. But it wasn’t really like it was enforced as much amongst the staff. It was more like the inmates have to wear it.

You see the staff a bunch it was like debates between well we can never give COVID to one another, is only the staff that bring it in so once- once they stay away from us we will be safe. Then as it progress there was a few outbreaks that prompt the change of regulations.

Like, first it was like three buildings able to go to yard together but then it was just two buildings, one in the lower yard, one in the upper yard. Then it was to quarantine people in place so that if let’s say if, in foxyard there was there is 10 buildings so there will be building 10, building three that can go out, that couldn’t go to phones. They went to eat their meals after everybody was done because they have potential COVID within them.

They pretty much were secluded from everybody else. And so they progress minimally until they started sending people to next dorm to be quarantine and isolation in single cells. Not that it helped much because we get the COVID from staff.

So, the now what they’re permanently doing, is that if somebody gets COVID, they quarantine that building, send everybody as they find them and then test them and check vitals everyday to see if there is any signs of COVID among the people that live together.

Being dorm living is restricted to 65 people per dorm. And they have separate rearranged the living quarters to have pods, which is what they call it, which is every six bunks they are bunched up together and there is a space in between them that is six feet apart.

But you have let’s say bunk 12, 13, 14 in regular spacing, which is about three feet from one another. And then you have lower, which is you and your bunkee within three feet. And then there is space and then it will be 16, 17, 18 all together then another space, six feet. So it is not really like isolation as they seem.

UCI: How have you been coping with the crisis inside?

Caller: I think I have been taking the mantle of activism. It’s one of the reasons why I’m telling this. We have done 602s, we have done a little bit of like awareness on they are, as opposed to couple of months back but nobody had a hope of seeing anything.

I think that ultimately I just kinda stick to my friends and just sit down on my bunk and try to be as clean as possible. Just stay away from the guards all together because I know that my peers can’t really give it to me unless they are talking to them, I just kind of stay away from those who want to be talking to people in the office all the time. But I’m into doing things that are both spiritually-minded and practical.

UCI: How had the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones and your visitation with them?

Caller: Well, even the fact that I went to quarantine a couple of weeks back, it was a little frustrating for my family not knowing what happened to me cause I used to call them weekly. And then I went to quarantine and they didn’t know whether I had COVID or not. I only got a message through somebody else. Which I had to trust with my family’s phone number to let them know that I left for what I thought that was two weeks. It ended up being 23 days.

So we went through it. There was a little stress. I’m not gonna say that it wasn’t, but we came out stronger. At least that’s what I believe in. And my visitation, well, we haven’t got a visit since like March. I haven’t seen my family since like forever. I’ve been down in for like 13 years now in October and not even the prospect of video visits.

Video computers in our visiting room, and they are always full, we only can get visiting once a month in the video calls. So that is pretty much it. I don’t see no hope of ever seeing my family until this is over because every time that we have the hope of the yard opening up, we get cleared at the levels according to the guidelines of CDCR, somebody commits a mistake, somebody doesn’t get tested, or comes back and tests positive.

What I hear is like they test them in the morning, and then two hours later they tell them, “Hey you got COVID, get out of there”. But we are already exposed, so we go back again FCOM three, or whatever they wanna call it.

And we just get locked down, so there’s no program. There’s no program, there’s no visits.

UCI: I understand. And do you have any ideas about what could potentially make the situation better at your facility?

Caller: Situation better at my facility as far as COVID or as far as visits?

UCI: Well, I guess COVID and how it’s affected your, you can talk about how it has affected your visits. Whatever you think that would better, their handling of COVID, I guess.

Caller: I mean, I think they staff needs to be directed to obey these rules. Maybe some type of quick tests. I know the test is really expensive. It’s like $150 for the quick test. But, we shouldn’t be exposed to staff that is potentially sick inside the facility, if they are supposed to be in charge of protecting us. Then they shouldn’t be allowed in until they know for sure that they are negative.

I hear that staff out there is not really following the regulations of social gathering. So that should be somewhat enforced and maybe looked into in some type of way, to say that if you are a public servant and you come into a facility, that you need to follow these guidelines so that no other person dies. Because life is precious.

But it also costs the department a lot every time that an incarcerated person dies. In the facility, there have been COVID-related deaths, even if it isn’t like, based on like I checked out with COVID but because of the other symptoms COVID brings. It adds issues to whatever other health issues that person has, they died, because they contracted COVID and made their condition worse.

So, I think that they should enforce a little bit more the security, and the way that people, they work in the prison system, is doing their sanitary and other safety concerns and procedures.

UCI: Thank you. And is there anything else that you want to share with anyone about your experience?

Caller: I think that when I went to CMC East, which is the wing for the isolation, C yard. They need to do a better job at maintaining the rest of the routine while you’re on isolation, like when we were down there, we never had clothing and some change.

The first wave was never allowed to keep their property. There was an unsanitary issue where they got all the trash with the PPE COVID and they destroy it together with the regular trash, and I guess the seagulls got in the trash. There was PPE garments all over the yard which they had to train.

There’s a lot of things that they could solve, they’re not doing right now. Maybe call you later, tell you more about it.

01/21
The fog will lift
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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony).

To PrisonPandemic Project,

I must say this facility got it together. CMC east even though we have had a series of outbreaks inside of here ever since, I have not caught the virus. The prison have really did a great job so far by keeping most of the population locked in our cell 24/7, and I do not have any problem with their policy. It has kept me safe and in good health. But life is all about a challenge, and I never ever ran from a challenge.

How have you been dealing and coping with this crisis? Same way I have dealt with doing these 36 years and have been standing tall through it all with Great God Almighty beside me. Thank you for sending me good thoughts and I will always keep hope alive within me.

Yes, I will continue to believe in myself. The fog will lift. You and I will get through this dark crossing. Know that we share the same traits. We share and encourage bonds of kinship that stretch across race, religion, and ethnicity. We are connected to each others by a union of heart and mind. Thank you so much for showing me your love and understanding towards our crisis.

Best wishes always!

Thank you.

The fog will lift

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