Corcoran

CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON, CORCORAN IS LOCATED IN CORCORAN, CA,
HOUSING 3,043 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,076 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4 deaths, at this facility.

Stories from Corcoran

11/20
Careless staff
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Careless staff

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Corcoran.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caller: Corcoran State Prison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, ano-

Caller: A little bit.

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

Caller: How have I been dealing with it?

UCI: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

01/21
No hugs
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No hugs

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Corcoran.

UCI: What’s it been like for your loved ones to have to go through this as well? Just to like know that you’re going through this on the inside?

Caller: It’s mental stress for them. It’s emotional because they can’t hug us, they can’t spend time with us, and they can barely see us through this video conferencing. Video visiting going on. So, it’s just mental stress for them.

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

UCI: Please give your testimonial about any aspects you think are important for people to know about the situation of people incarcerated.

Caller: Okay, well. The situation is critical in here. There’s only so much care that we get around here.

UCI: Sorry, what was that? Hello?

Caller: Hello.

UCI: Hello? Can you hear me okay?

UCI: Oh, okay. Go ahead.

Caller: So, you’re asking me about the stuff that’s happening right here right with a pandemic and how I am coping with it?

UCI: Yes.

Caller: Okay, well, the coping it’s not as great as one thinks out there it is. There’s only so much stuff that we can get. If we say that we’re sick, for instance, there’s like a timeframe that we have to wait in order to get seen.

So, the stress levels get high. And we have inmates that are placed in our cells and there’s only so much, there’s only so much that we can do.

UCI: Can I just ask, which facility are you housed at?

Caller: In Corcoran.

UCI: Corcoran?

Caller: Yes.

UCI: Okay. All right. So, like what has the COVID-19 situation been like at your facility? Like is there anything troubling or concerning to you?

Caller: Everything it’s totally wrong here. Everybody here pretty much caught the pandemic. We were all quarantined for a long time but there were a lot of people popping up sick.

So, everything is troubling and causes mental distress to everyone. So, everyone’s walking around here on their toes and everything all stressed out because they’re saying that we’re gonna be getting used to it, but they’re not doing nothing but just giving us masks, like once a week, if that, like new masks.

UCI: So, like if you guys have any side effects, for example, like a headache or a fever they’re not doing anything about that?

Caller: No, you have to send an email request, which can take up to two weeks.

UCI: Do they quarantine you guys, do they move you to like a different unit?

Caller: Yes, they do move you to a different yard, but that’s after you get seen, which like I said it can take up to 10 to 14 days to be seen.

UCI: Okay. How has COVID been handled at your facility? So, could you do like a quick rundown of this, like for example if you tested positive, what happens to you after that?

Caller: When you test positive, they send you to B yard, which is the quarantine yard. And you do stay over there for like, seven to 14 days, which you then will be returned back over here. But it seems like these COs aren’t doing their job because they’re not giving us the right cleaning utility that we’re supposed to be having for this COVID stuff.

Because at first they were giving us all of this cleaning stuff. But I’m actually a worker and I will be the one doing national cleaning. But lately, they haven’t given us the right cleaning stuff to work. Everything’s pretty much germed up.

And the masks, I know we’re supposed to be getting new masks, like every day because we’re workers and each mask gets dirty and sweaty. And we’re pretty much getting, I’m telling you, from like four to five days if that.

UCI: Wow, okay. Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Caller: Nope.

UCI: What do you think could make the situation at your facility better? So, what would you like to see them do to help you guys?

Caller: For them to send the right cleaning stuff which was in one of those barrels that will come from CDC from that hospital, every time they will come in here like daily. And we will clean the walls, and clean the windows and where we sit at, like our living quarters. But we haven’t been cleaning this like, for a while.

So, that I would like to see that happen and like for these masks for us to get them on a daily use. And when someone shows symptoms of being sick and they’re saying they’re sick, to be seen right away and not have to wait two weeks.

UCI: So, how have you been coping with the crisis?

Caller: I’ve been coping with the crisis talking to my wife. And letting her know what I’m going through. Keeping myself busy with my Bible and my art. And just staying at my cell working out. Staying away from everybody.

UCI: Right. What’s it been like for your loved ones to have to go through this as well? Just to like know that you’re going through this on the inside?

Caller: It’s mental stress for them. It’s emotional because they can’t hug us, they can’t spend time with us, and they can barely see us through this video conferencing. Video visiting going on. So, it’s just mental stress for them.

UCI: Right. And also, how has it been to have reduced programming?

Caller: The programming is not, they’ve been taking like a lot of our programming. But they recently started handing out programming, but I think we were safer when we didn’t have programming cause we were more in our cells and away from everybody that we don’t have the right to share cells over here and the right stuff to clean or living by our living quarters.

UCI: Right. So, they started up the programming again?

Caller: Yes, they started up the programming. So, everybody is coming out together again, just like more of a crowd. But, like, a lot of people, a lot of these guys don’t wear their masks. So, I personally just stay at my cell and I just come out to do my phone calls, do my job and go back to my cell.

That’s why these people are starting to get sick because they don’t really care about the mask. But these cops don’t really pass out masks like that. They’ll give them to you once a week.

UCI: What else would you like people to know about your experience? Is there anything that’s happened like since COVID started almost a year ago that, like, stands out to you that you’d want to share?

Caller: No, that’s pretty much it.

UCI: Okay. Well, thank you so much for participating. It’s now 7:51. Is there anything else you want to add?

Caller: No, thank you.

11/20
Not doing much
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Not doing much

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Corcoran.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full story

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

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

Caller: Corcoran State Prison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, ano-

Caller: A little bit.

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

Caller: How have I been dealing with it?

UCI: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

01/21
Side effects
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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Corcoran.

UCI: So, like if you guys have any side effects, for example, like a headache or a fever they’re not doing anything about that?

Caller: No, you have to send an email request, which can take up to two weeks.

UCI: Do they quarantine you guys, do they move you to like a different unit?

Caller: Yes, they do move you to a different yard, but that’s after you get seen, which like I said it can take up to 10 to 14 days to be seen.

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

UCI: Please give your testimonial about any aspects you think are important for people to know about the situation of people incarcerated.

Caller: Okay, well. The situation is critical in here. There’s only so much care that we get around here.

UCI: Sorry, what was that? Hello?

Caller: Hello.

UCI: Hello? Can you hear me okay?

UCI: Oh, okay. Go ahead.

Caller: So, you’re asking me about the stuff that’s happening right here right with a pandemic and how I am coping with it?

UCI: Yes.

Caller: Okay, well, the coping it’s not as great as one thinks out there it is. There’s only so much stuff that we can get. If we say that we’re sick, for instance, there’s like a timeframe that we have to wait in order to get seen.

So, the stress levels get high. And we have inmates that are placed in our cells and there’s only so much, there’s only so much that we can do.

UCI: Can I just ask, which facility are you housed at?

Caller: In Corcoran.

UCI: Corcoran?

Caller: Yes.

UCI: Okay. All right. So, like what has the COVID-19 situation been like at your facility? Like is there anything troubling or concerning to you?

Caller: Everything it’s totally wrong here. Everybody here pretty much caught the pandemic. We were all quarantined for a long time but there were a lot of people popping up sick.

So, everything is troubling and causes mental distress to everyone. So, everyone’s walking around here on their toes and everything all stressed out because they’re saying that we’re gonna be getting used to it, but they’re not doing nothing but just giving us masks, like once a week, if that, like new masks.

UCI: So, like if you guys have any side effects, for example, like a headache or a fever they’re not doing anything about that?

Caller: No, you have to send an email request, which can take up to two weeks.

UCI: Do they quarantine you guys, do they move you to like a different unit?

Caller: Yes, they do move you to a different yard, but that’s after you get seen, which like I said it can take up to 10 to 14 days to be seen.

UCI: Okay. How has COVID been handled at your facility? So, could you do like a quick rundown of this, like for example if you tested positive, what happens to you after that?

Caller: When you test positive, they send you to B yard, which is the quarantine yard. And you do stay over there for like, seven to 14 days, which you then will be returned back over here. But it seems like these COs aren’t doing their job because they’re not giving us the right cleaning utility that we’re supposed to be having for this COVID stuff.

Because at first they were giving us all of this cleaning stuff. But I’m actually a worker and I will be the one doing national cleaning. But lately, they haven’t given us the right cleaning stuff to work. Everything’s pretty much germed up.

And the masks, I know we’re supposed to be getting new masks, like every day because we’re workers and each mask gets dirty and sweaty. And we’re pretty much getting, I’m telling you, from like four to five days if that.

UCI: Wow, okay. Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Caller: Nope.

UCI: What do you think could make the situation at your facility better? So, what would you like to see them do to help you guys?

Caller: For them to send the right cleaning stuff which was in one of those barrels that will come from CDC from that hospital, every time they will come in here like daily. And we will clean the walls, and clean the windows and where we sit at, like our living quarters. But we haven’t been cleaning this like, for a while.

So, that I would like to see that happen and like for these masks for us to get them on a daily use. And when someone shows symptoms of being sick and they’re saying they’re sick, to be seen right away and not have to wait two weeks.

UCI: So, how have you been coping with the crisis?

Caller: I’ve been coping with the crisis talking to my wife. And letting her know what I’m going through. Keeping myself busy with my Bible and my art. And just staying at my cell working out. Staying away from everybody.

UCI: Right. What’s it been like for your loved ones to have to go through this as well? Just to like know that you’re going through this on the inside?

Caller: It’s mental stress for them. It’s emotional because they can’t hug us, they can’t spend time with us, and they can barely see us through this video conferencing. Video visiting going on. So, it’s just mental stress for them.

UCI: Right. And also, how has it been to have reduced programming?

Caller: The programming is not, they’ve been taking like a lot of our programming. But they recently started handing out programming, but I think we were safer when we didn’t have programming cause we were more in our cells and away from everybody that we don’t have the right to share cells over here and the right stuff to clean or living by our living quarters.

UCI: Right. So, they started up the programming again?

Caller: Yes, they started up the programming. So, everybody is coming out together again, just like more of a crowd. But, like, a lot of people, a lot of these guys don’t wear their masks. So, I personally just stay at my cell and I just come out to do my phone calls, do my job and go back to my cell.

That’s why these people are starting to get sick because they don’t really care about the mask. But these cops don’t really pass out masks like that. They’ll give them to you once a week.

UCI: What else would you like people to know about your experience? Is there anything that’s happened like since COVID started almost a year ago that, like, stands out to you that you’d want to share?

Caller: No, that’s pretty much it.

UCI: Okay. Well, thank you so much for participating. It’s now 7:51. Is there anything else you want to add?

Caller: No, thank you.

11/20
Protect yourself
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Caller: I’ve been dealing with it okay. I mean it’s just like just something else that’s transpiring in prison, no different from, maybe, like a prison riot and you go on lockdown and you stay locked down until the incident is resolved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caller: Corcoran State Prison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, ano-

Caller: A little bit.

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

Caller: How have I been dealing with it?

UCI: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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