Ironwood

IRONWOOD STATE PRISON IS LOCATED IN BLYTHE, CA,
HOUSING 2,896 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,569 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1 death, at this facility.

Stories from Ironwood

11/20
Bring accountability
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Bring accountability

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Ironwood.

Staff misconduct related to non-compliance of social distancing and donning a mask is a matter that has existed and been addressed from the onset of this pandemic. Until about a week ago, Ironwood was still using meals in the dining hall and every day we were being exposed to the staff congregating around or sitting on the dining tables, wearing no mask or gloves while conversing over the table, and then instructed to sit and eat at those same tables. When respectfully asked to not sit on the table tops or put their feet on the seats and to have put on their masks and or gloves, we have been disregarded and/or sneered at like we don’t matter. Many staff conveniently have something covering their names so we can’t issue a complaint. Those we have issued complaints on, from what is recognized, are not being reprimanded in a way to establish intolerance.

Subsequently staff are still disregarding policy, often clustered in groups and talking with their mask on their chin, even in the buildings during mealtimes where exposure is more significant. The severity of the affront is in the fact that sergeants and lieutenants are often present when this is occurring. Even with meals being issued in same buildings now staff are still behaving the same and what makes this more troubling is that tables, benches, and other high touch surfaces are not being disinfected afterwards or prior to evening program release. There really is so much, but I want to get this out. I will eventually call the hotline, and I will also write more in hope that together we will prevail in the advocacy of unified compliance and preventing the spread of this deadly virus.

I cannot claim that my efforts have been effective, but I am at least attempting to lift my voice in this cause and the demand that CDCR staff be held accountable for their indifference and or blatant respect for human life, our life. My next step is to bring accountability to CDCR, Ironwood management supervisors.

All the best

The full story

Go Back

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

To whom this may concern,

I am writing to inform you of how CDCR/Ironwood has responded to COVID-19 and its protective policies. I have been housed at Ironwood since my transfer from [redacted]. An attempt to creating a socially distanced environment, and even up to present, Ironwood’s efforts to provide a healthy and safe domain have been mediocre and superficial at best.

From the beginning this compliance with COVID-19 policy has been dictated by Ironwood’s manager and supervisors who are ultimately displaying a nonchalance toward enforcing these policies and continuing to enhance the conditions of this facility where they can.

Instead of being genuinely concerned with building a safe and healthy environment, every request toward that end has been met with resistance, excuses, and an almost indifference to the legitimacy of how it will benefit and effect inmates and staff alike. From our perspective, Ironwood has only sought out ways in which they might deprive us of the few privileges that our circumstances allow, and this is orchestrated by supervisors under the guise of “policy”.

Examples of this abuse: Several months ago, inmates were restricted to the use of every other phone to create social distance, this “policy” was put in place rather than installing partitions. Myself and others submitted complaints on this deprivation and how not being able to communicate effectively with family etc. during this pandemic is causing irreparable damage to the mental and physical health of those involved. My claim was denied, but a month or so later maintenance installed partitions.

Then a new policy was put out citing that all phones would now be available for use, but that 15 minutes between usage would be occupied for cleaning. This because cell block 64 “must sit for 10 minutes” to be effective. This action is obviously an abuse of policy and intended to mock our complaints since nothing was actually intended to provide more access to phones. Under both “policies” there is approximately the same provisions, 160 sign up availabilities for 200 inmates, and this does not consider calls that are missed due to testing, training, or (now) conflict in building meals. I filed a complaint on this policy.

Again, instead of making an effort to compensate for the lack of phone availability and sanitation procedures, Ironwood supervisors have demonstrated that they do not care. Secondly, supervisors and management are condoning a measure of group punishment in confiscation and/or suspending inmate privileges where some can be seen not complying with mask or social distance protocol. Phones have been disinfected, recreation equipment confiscated, and canteen closed as a form of punishment for what amounts to a sporadic defiance perpetrated by a few individuals.

In one instance I approached two sergeants and respectfully asked why they were enabling group punishment tactics instead of using the rules violation process to directly address those in non-compliance. I also indicated that they were intentionally inciting tension and stress in an already difficult time. Both sergeants said, “I can do what I want. Write me up.”

Additionally, quarterly packages are often taking months to be issued, have been damaged and returned without notification or verification and have been issued to the wrong person. We are often relying on hygiene and cleaning products that our families are purchasing to benefit us during this pandemic, and not receiving them in a timely fashion, or at all due to the carelessness of staff, is in many ways disallowing us the ability to keep ourselves clean and safe. Ironwood is not issuing an adequate supply of cleaners or necessary rags, toilet scrubbers or gloves for cell maintenance so we are left to fend for ourselves.

It should be noted that without visits, regular access to phones, religious services, self-help groups and other avenues of communication and interaction with family and positive peers, inmates are experiencing greater levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns that this facility is unequipped to address and treat properly.

CDCR/Ironwood is not considering, or caring about, the fact that treatment of inhumane behavior and neglect is causing a significant increase in the mental health population and that these acquired disorders severely affect the immune system and one’s ability combat COVID.

I have been reinstated on mental health treatment since early [redacted], and my experiences with Ironwood’s staff and mental health personnel has been more than counter effective and discouraging than anything. Per CDCR policy I should’ve been transferred within 21 days of mental health placement, but here I sit 7 months later, with no significantly effective treatment, and my endorsement expired.

I have a long history of mental health treatment for anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and nightmares, related to long term sexual abuse and PTSD, and though it’s obvious that this situation has contributed to the resurgence of those symptoms, Ironwood has not considered it necessary to approve me for transfer where I can receive adequate treatment. I have submitted a complaint on this issue and it has been denied, appealed to a higher level.

Staff misconduct related to non-compliance of social distancing and donning a mask is a matter that has existed and been addressed from the onset of this pandemic. Until about a week ago, Ironwood was still using meals in the dining hall and every day we were being exposed to the staff congregating around or sitting on the dining tables, wearing no mask or gloves while conversing over the table, and then instructed to sit and eat at those same tables. When respectfully asked to not sit on the table tops or put their feet on the seats and to have put on their masks and or gloves, we have been disregarded and/or sneered at like we don’t matter. Many staff conveniently have something covering their names so we can’t issue a complaint. Those we have issued complaints on, from what is recognized, are not being reprimanded in a way to establish intolerance.

Subsequently staff are still disregarding policy, often clustered in groups and talking with their mask on their chin, even in the buildings during mealtimes where exposure is more significant. The severity of the affront is in the fact that sergeants and lieutenants are often present when this is occurring. Even with meals being issued in same buildings now staff are still behaving the same and what makes this more troubling is that tables, benches, and other high touch surfaces are not being disinfected afterwards or prior to evening program release. There really is so much, but I want to get this out. I will eventually call the hotline, and I will also write more in hope that together we will prevail in the advocacy of unified compliance and preventing the spread of this deadly virus.

I cannot claim that my efforts have been effective, but I am at least attempting to lift my voice in this cause and the demand that CDCR staff be held accountable for their indifference and or blatant respect for human life, our life. My next step is to bring accountability to CDCR, Ironwood management supervisors.

All the best

11/20
Nonchalance
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Nonchalance

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Ironwood.

To whom this may concern,

I am writing to inform you of how CDCR/Ironwood has responded to COVID-19 and its protective policies. I have been housed at Ironwood since my transfer from [redacted]. An attempt to creating a socially distanced environment, and even up to present, Ironwood’s efforts to provide a healthy and safe domain have been mediocre and superficial at best.

From the beginning this compliance with COVID-19 policy has been dictated by Ironwood’s manager and supervisors who are ultimately displaying a nonchalance toward enforcing these policies and continuing to enhance the conditions of this facility where they can.

Instead of being genuinely concerned with building a safe and healthy environment, every request toward that end has been met with resistance, excuses, and an almost indifference to the legitimacy of how it will benefit and effect inmates and staff alike. From our perspective, Ironwood has only sought out ways in which they might deprive us of the few privileges that our circumstances allow, and this is orchestrated by supervisors under the guise of “policy”.

Examples of this abuse: Several months ago, inmates were restricted to the use of every other phone to create social distance, this “policy” was put in place rather than installing partitions. Myself and others submitted complaints on this deprivation and how not being able to communicate effectively with family etc. during this pandemic is causing irreparable damage to the mental and physical health of those involved. My claim was denied, but a month or so later maintenance installed partitions.

Then a new policy was put out citing that all phones would now be available for use, but that 15 minutes between usage would be occupied for cleaning. This because cell block 64 “must sit for 10 minutes” to be effective. This action is obviously an abuse of policy and intended to mock our complaints since nothing was actually intended to provide more access to phones. Under both “policies” there is approximately the same provisions, 160 sign up availabilities for 200 inmates, and this does not consider calls that are missed due to testing, training, or (now) conflict in building meals. I filed a complaint on this policy.

Again, instead of making an effort to compensate for the lack of phone availability and sanitation procedures, Ironwood supervisors have demonstrated that they do not care. Secondly, supervisors and management are condoning a measure of group punishment in confiscation and/or suspending inmate privileges where some can be seen not complying with mask or social distance protocol. Phones have been disinfected, recreation equipment confiscated, and canteen closed as a form of punishment for what amounts to a sporadic defiance perpetrated by a few individuals.

In one instance I approached two sergeants and respectfully asked why they were enabling group punishment tactics instead of using the rules violation process to directly address those in non-compliance. I also indicated that they were intentionally inciting tension and stress in an already difficult time. Both sergeants said, “I can do what I want. Write me up.”

Additionally, quarterly packages are often taking months to be issued, have been damaged and returned without notification or verification and have been issued to the wrong person. We are often relying on hygiene and cleaning products that our families are purchasing to benefit us during this pandemic, and not receiving them in a timely fashion, or at all due to the carelessness of staff, is in many ways disallowing us the ability to keep ourselves clean and safe. Ironwood is not issuing an adequate supply of cleaners or necessary rags, toilet scrubbers or gloves for cell maintenance so we are left to fend for ourselves.

The full story

Go Back

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

To whom this may concern,

I am writing to inform you of how CDCR/Ironwood has responded to COVID-19 and its protective policies. I have been housed at Ironwood since my transfer from [redacted]. An attempt to creating a socially distanced environment, and even up to present, Ironwood’s efforts to provide a healthy and safe domain have been mediocre and superficial at best.

From the beginning this compliance with COVID-19 policy has been dictated by Ironwood’s manager and supervisors who are ultimately displaying a nonchalance toward enforcing these policies and continuing to enhance the conditions of this facility where they can.

Instead of being genuinely concerned with building a safe and healthy environment, every request toward that end has been met with resistance, excuses, and an almost indifference to the legitimacy of how it will benefit and effect inmates and staff alike. From our perspective, Ironwood has only sought out ways in which they might deprive us of the few privileges that our circumstances allow, and this is orchestrated by supervisors under the guise of “policy”.

Examples of this abuse: Several months ago, inmates were restricted to the use of every other phone to create social distance, this “policy” was put in place rather than installing partitions. Myself and others submitted complaints on this deprivation and how not being able to communicate effectively with family etc. during this pandemic is causing irreparable damage to the mental and physical health of those involved. My claim was denied, but a month or so later maintenance installed partitions.

Then a new policy was put out citing that all phones would now be available for use, but that 15 minutes between usage would be occupied for cleaning. This because cell block 64 “must sit for 10 minutes” to be effective. This action is obviously an abuse of policy and intended to mock our complaints since nothing was actually intended to provide more access to phones. Under both “policies” there is approximately the same provisions, 160 sign up availabilities for 200 inmates, and this does not consider calls that are missed due to testing, training, or (now) conflict in building meals. I filed a complaint on this policy.

Again, instead of making an effort to compensate for the lack of phone availability and sanitation procedures, Ironwood supervisors have demonstrated that they do not care. Secondly, supervisors and management are condoning a measure of group punishment in confiscation and/or suspending inmate privileges where some can be seen not complying with mask or social distance protocol. Phones have been disinfected, recreation equipment confiscated, and canteen closed as a form of punishment for what amounts to a sporadic defiance perpetrated by a few individuals.

In one instance I approached two sergeants and respectfully asked why they were enabling group punishment tactics instead of using the rules violation process to directly address those in non-compliance. I also indicated that they were intentionally inciting tension and stress in an already difficult time. Both sergeants said, “I can do what I want. Write me up.”

Additionally, quarterly packages are often taking months to be issued, have been damaged and returned without notification or verification and have been issued to the wrong person. We are often relying on hygiene and cleaning products that our families are purchasing to benefit us during this pandemic, and not receiving them in a timely fashion, or at all due to the carelessness of staff, is in many ways disallowing us the ability to keep ourselves clean and safe. Ironwood is not issuing an adequate supply of cleaners or necessary rags, toilet scrubbers or gloves for cell maintenance so we are left to fend for ourselves.

It should be noted that without visits, regular access to phones, religious services, self-help groups and other avenues of communication and interaction with family and positive peers, inmates are experiencing greater levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns that this facility is unequipped to address and treat properly.

CDCR/Ironwood is not considering, or caring about, the fact that treatment of inhumane behavior and neglect is causing a significant increase in the mental health population and that these acquired disorders severely affect the immune system and one’s ability combat COVID.

I have been reinstated on mental health treatment since early [redacted], and my experiences with Ironwood’s staff and mental health personnel has been more than counter effective and discouraging than anything. Per CDCR policy I should’ve been transferred within 21 days of mental health placement, but here I sit 7 months later, with no significantly effective treatment, and my endorsement expired.

I have a long history of mental health treatment for anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and nightmares, related to long term sexual abuse and PTSD, and though it’s obvious that this situation has contributed to the resurgence of those symptoms, Ironwood has not considered it necessary to approve me for transfer where I can receive adequate treatment. I have submitted a complaint on this issue and it has been denied, appealed to a higher level.

Staff misconduct related to non-compliance of social distancing and donning a mask is a matter that has existed and been addressed from the onset of this pandemic. Until about a week ago, Ironwood was still using meals in the dining hall and every day we were being exposed to the staff congregating around or sitting on the dining tables, wearing no mask or gloves while conversing over the table, and then instructed to sit and eat at those same tables. When respectfully asked to not sit on the table tops or put their feet on the seats and to have put on their masks and or gloves, we have been disregarded and/or sneered at like we don’t matter. Many staff conveniently have something covering their names so we can’t issue a complaint. Those we have issued complaints on, from what is recognized, are not being reprimanded in a way to establish intolerance.

Subsequently staff are still disregarding policy, often clustered in groups and talking with their mask on their chin, even in the buildings during mealtimes where exposure is more significant. The severity of the affront is in the fact that sergeants and lieutenants are often present when this is occurring. Even with meals being issued in same buildings now staff are still behaving the same and what makes this more troubling is that tables, benches, and other high touch surfaces are not being disinfected afterwards or prior to evening program release. There really is so much, but I want to get this out. I will eventually call the hotline, and I will also write more in hope that together we will prevail in the advocacy of unified compliance and preventing the spread of this deadly virus.

I cannot claim that my efforts have been effective, but I am at least attempting to lift my voice in this cause and the demand that CDCR staff be held accountable for their indifference and or blatant respect for human life, our life. My next step is to bring accountability to CDCR, Ironwood management supervisors.

All the best.

11/20
Solitary confinement
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0:00
0:00

Solitary confinement

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This story was told by a person incarcerated at Ironwood.

Caller: Well they started feeding us, as of yesterday they started feeding us in the buildings. On June 11th, on June 10th, I work at central health, I was confirmed as a positive, um prisoner that came up positive of COVID virus.

I went to, um first they placed, prior to that they moved us to the visiting, family visiting bungalows and from there they snatched me up about two o’clock in the morning and sent me to the hospital that was central health and I was held there with just basically solitary confinement for approximately 18 days.

From there they moved me to ad seg for another 18 days and then, all this time it was in solitary confinement basically. I was in ad seg as if, being treated as if I was an ad seg inmate that did something wrong which the only thing was wrong was that I caught COVID virus.

Because one of the staff members, I was cleaning their office and they had contracted the COVID virus and they didn’t notify us until about a week later. Then they told us not to clean the room but by then I was already infected.

Went through all the phases, I still have headaches as of today since June 10th, oh well since June 8th, 8th, is kind of, kinda when they traced it to June 8th. But they didn’t, they didn’t isolate me until about June 11th.

Prior, and then, again, trying to get the dates right. October 18th, everybody that worked at central health or everybody that worked for PIA, they isolated again, the whole 16 of us. Isolated us and then housed us in C yard, building 1 I wanna say for approximately 14 days.

None of us came out positive but again, solitary confinement. Basically treating us as if we had did something wrong. From that they moved us back, they moved us from C yard which is a general population to B yard for another 14 days. From there they just, after the 14 days there, they moved us back to A yard. So actually I’ve been at every facility except family visiting, I was housed in every yard.

Apart from that I still have headaches.

The full story

Go Back

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

UCI: What facility are you currently housed at?

Caller: Ironwood State Prison.

UCI: What is the COVID-19 situation like at your facility?

Caller: Um, it’s pretty bad, at least where, can I say where I work?

UCI: Yes sir, we’re not going to say any names.

Caller: Okay because I’m a health care facility maintenance guy and they’re running out of chemicals, they’re running out of soaps, they’re running out of everything they’re saying that they’re giving us, they’re not.

I actually work in PIA that’s supposed to be distributing the chemicals and they don’t even have [unintelligible] use alternate chemicals just to do some of the cleaning. But as of today we ran out of cell block 64. We’re using the substitute of saniguard, dilute it, and most of the cleaning they do here is diluted [unintelligible]. Hello?

UCI: I’m here, I’m listening.

Caller: Okay, other important things, well they started feeding us, as of yesterday they started feeding us in the buildings. On June 11th, on June 10th, I work at central health, I was confirmed as a positive, um prisoner that came up positive of COVID virus.

I went to, um first they placed, prior to that they moved us to the visiting, family visiting bungalows and from there they snatched me up about two o’clock in the morning and sent me to the hospital that was central health and I was held there with just basically solitary confinement for approximately 18 days.

From there they moved me to ad seg for another 18 days and then, all this time it was in solitary confinement basically. I was in ad seg as if, being treated as if I was an ad seg inmate that did something wrong which the only thing was wrong was that I caught COVID virus.

Because one of the staff members, I was cleaning their office and they had contracted the COVID virus and they didn’t notify us until about a week later. Then they told us not to clean the room but by then I was already infected. Went through all the phases, I still have headaches as of today since June 10th, oh well since June 8th, 8th, is kind of, kinda when they traced it to June 8th. But they didn’t, they didn’t isolate me until about June 11th.

Prior, and then, again, trying to get the dates right. October 18th, everybody that worked at central health or everybody that worked for PIA, they isolated again, the whole 16 of us. Isolated us and then housed us in C yard, building 1 I wanna say for approximately 14 days.

None of us came out positive but again, solitary confinement. Basically treating us as if we had did something wrong. From that they moved us back, they moved us from C yard which is a general population to B yard for another 14 days. From there they just, after the 14 days there, they moved us back to A yard. So actually I’ve been at every facility except family visiting, I was housed in every yard.

Apart from that I still have headaches, and another thing it’s kinda like I wrote up a 602 based on me catching COVID, COVID-19, was denied and the denial basically said, their denial to my 602 appeal was it was unknown how the inmate contracted COVID virus.

Denying, and my argument was “I’m in your custody, you were lacking in providing us protective PPE, personal protective equipment [unintelligible] headache in the morning. Right now my 602’s been in Sacramento since, I don’t know, a month and a half now.

They denied it right away, every request for them to, you know, correct the errors just didn’t, basically just tossed around, being ignored like we did something wrong. Well at least that’s the impression I got.

And it’s right now it’s like a, what’s going on is the officers are getting I guess frustrated with all the safety precautions they have to take because you know, tryna prevent the spreading, but you know their frustration’s being you know, you know put on us, the inmate population. I guess uh, that’s pretty much my story and my experience.

UCI: Okay, well can you remember, can you try to think back to the beginning of the virus and maybe give me a month by month breakdown, if you can remember about how it’s been handled or what happened? Starting maybe from March?

Caller: [unintelligible] and the treatment that we’re getting in regards to you know, like I said right now a lot of the officers are just getting frustrated and they’re sharing that frustration with the inmates which is kind of weird. They’ve been, they never stopped searching, you know, like patting us down. Like I go to work and everyday they pat us down without changing their gloves out.

This is [unintelligible], when you used to go to chow, you would go up to chow and on the way out they would randomly select inmates, pat them down and never change their gloves and pat down the next inmate, pat them down and so on and so on. When I go to work every day they search us, search our clothes, which they got a metal detector and they got screening machines but even on top of that they strip us down to naked, go through our clothes and give it back to us.

And they’re just doing this without even changing their gloves, disregarding the social distancing protocols. You know, of course you have some that try to follow it and some that they just don’t care, they’re just frustrated with the restrictions.

UCI: Do the guards wear masks?

Caller: Excuse me?

UCI: Do the guards wear masks?

Caller: Yeah, right now this whole week they’ve been enforcing it. But, um, for whatever reason I think there’s gonna be an audit so all of them are putting on, they’re getting on their Ps and Qs. But you know, a good majority, I think the other day they came by and I think squad or the investigating unit was taking pictures of officers not with their mask on or, somebody was with them that was taking pictures.

And you know, like I said, the frustration’s just being put on us. One of the frustration I see it is the mask, they’re not wearing the proper mask. They’re just wearing like the sleeve of a shirt, which it looks like to me.

The mask that they’re issue they’re- I haven’t, there’s like the majority of them are just wearing their own, you know personal whatever they like bandanas and stuff like that.

UCI: What have you been doing to cope?

Caller: What was that?

UCI: What have you been doing to cope with the crisis? Or how have you been coping with the crisis?

Caller: Me, I’ve just been working, you know I’m on a critical list so I work pretty much seven days a week which is keeping me [unintelligible].

UCI: You were sorry?

Caller: Excuse me?

UCI: I didn’t catch the last thing you said, you were what?

Caller: I didn’t understand that last part.

UCI: Oh, it’s okay, I just said I couldn’t, I didn’t hear the last thing you said.

Caller: Oh I was [unintelligible]. I’m in building one and there is no hot water [unintelligible] four days without any hot water in the building so we’re showering in cold water and we’re, I mean injury to insult, I mean insult to injury the buildings are falling apart.

In 602, cause you try to get them to do it and they say “well you got to talk to operations”. Did you get that?

UCI: Yes sir. Okay so we have about a minute left. Is there anything, what else would you like for people to know about your experience?

Caller: At the top of my head, I wish they would just have chemicals, the chemicals they’re not for COVID virus. And when they do get the proper chemicals they’re diluting it way out of ratio, might as well put water on the ground. [unintelligible].

UCI: Okay, please so we are almost out of time, I want to encourage you please if you have friends please encourage them to call. We would love if you called back too if you can.

Caller: Yeah I got the notice and I [unintelligible].

UCI: Oh thank you so much. Thank you we also have a P.O. Box.

11/20
Anxiety, depression
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Anxiety, depression

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Ironwood.

It should be noted that without visits, regular access to phones, religious services, self-help groups and other avenues of communication and interaction with family and positive peers, inmates are experiencing greater levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns that this facility is unequipped to address and treat properly.

CDCR/Ironwood is not considering, or caring about, the fact that treatment of inhumane behavior and neglect is causing a significant increase in the mental health population and that these acquired disorders severely affect the immune system and one’s ability combat COVID.

I have been reinstated on mental health treatment since early [redacted], and my experiences with Ironwood’s staff and mental health personnel has been more than counter effective and discouraging than anything. Per CDCR policy I should’ve been transferred within 21 days of mental health placement, but here I sit 7 months later, with no significantly effective treatment, and my endorsement expired.

I have a long history of mental health treatment for anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and nightmares, related to long term sexual abuse and PTSD, and though it’s obvious that this situation has contributed to the resurgence of those symptoms, Ironwood has not considered it necessary to approve me for transfer where I can receive adequate treatment. I have submitted a complaint on this issue and it has been denied, appealed to second level.

The full story

Go Back

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

To whom this may concern,

I am writing to inform you of how CDCR/Ironwood has responded to COVID-19 and its protective policies. I have been housed at Ironwood since my transfer from [redacted]. An attempt to creating a socially distanced environment, and even up to present, Ironwood’s efforts to provide a healthy and safe domain have been mediocre and superficial at best.

From the beginning this compliance with COVID-19 policy has been dictated by Ironwood’s manager and supervisors who are ultimately displaying a nonchalance toward enforcing these policies and continuing to enhance the conditions of this facility where they can.

Instead of being genuinely concerned with building a safe and healthy environment, every request toward that end has been met with resistance, excuses, and an almost indifference to the legitimacy of how it will benefit and effect inmates and staff alike. From our perspective, Ironwood has only sought out ways in which they might deprive us of the few privileges that our circumstances allow, and this is orchestrated by supervisors under the guise of “policy”.

Examples of this abuse: Several months ago, inmates were restricted to the use of every other phone to create social distance, this “policy” was put in place rather than installing partitions. Myself and others submitted complaints on this deprivation and how not being able to communicate effectively with family etc. during this pandemic is causing irreparable damage to the mental and physical health of those involved. My claim was denied, but a month or so later maintenance installed partitions.

Then a new policy was put out citing that all phones would now be available for use, but that 15 minutes between usage would be occupied for cleaning. This because cell block 64 “must sit for 10 minutes” to be effective. This action is obviously an abuse of policy and intended to mock our complaints since nothing was actually intended to provide more access to phones. Under both “policies” there is approximately the same provisions, 160 sign up availabilities for 200 inmates, and this does not consider calls that are missed due to testing, training, or (now) conflict in building meals. I filed a complaint on this policy.

Again, instead of making an effort to compensate for the lack of phone availability and sanitation procedures, Ironwood supervisors have demonstrated that they do not care. Secondly, supervisors and management are condoning a measure of group punishment in confiscation and/or suspending inmate privileges where some can be seen not complying with mask or social distance protocol. Phones have been disinfected, recreation equipment confiscated, and canteen closed as a form of punishment for what amounts to a sporadic defiance perpetrated by a few individuals.

In one instance I approached two sergeants and respectfully asked why they were enabling group punishment tactics instead of using the rules violation process to directly address those in non-compliance. I also indicated that they were intentionally inciting tension and stress in an already difficult time. Both sergeants said, “I can do what I want. Write me up.”

Additionally, quarterly packages are often taking months to be issued, have been damaged and returned without notification or verification and have been issued to the wrong person. We are often relying on hygiene and cleaning products that our families are purchasing to benefit us during this pandemic, and not receiving them in a timely fashion, or at all due to the carelessness of staff, is in many ways disallowing us the ability to keep ourselves clean and safe. Ironwood is not issuing an adequate supply of cleaners or necessary rags, toilet scrubbers or gloves for cell maintenance so we are left to fend for ourselves.

It should be noted that without visits, regular access to phones, religious services, self-help groups and other avenues of communication and interaction with family and positive peers, inmates are experiencing greater levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns that this facility is unequipped to address and treat properly.

CDCR/Ironwood is not considering, or caring about, the fact that treatment of inhumane behavior and neglect is causing a significant increase in the mental health population and that these acquired disorders severely affect the immune system and one’s ability combat COVID.

I have been reinstated on mental health treatment since early [redacted], and my experiences with Ironwood’s staff and mental health personnel has been more than counter effective and discouraging than anything. Per CDCR policy I should’ve been transferred within 21 days of mental health placement, but here I sit 7 months later, with no significantly effective treatment, and my endorsement expired.

I have a long history of mental health treatment for anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and nightmares, related to long term sexual abuse and PTSD, and though it’s obvious that this situation has contributed to the resurgence of those symptoms, Ironwood has not considered it necessary to approve me for transfer where I can receive adequate treatment. I have submitted a complaint on this issue and it has been denied, appealed to a higher level.

Staff misconduct related to non-compliance of social distancing and donning a mask is a matter that has existed and been addressed from the onset of this pandemic. Until about a week ago, Ironwood was still using meals in the dining hall and every day we were being exposed to the staff congregating around or sitting on the dining tables, wearing no mask or gloves while conversing over the table, and then instructed to sit and eat at those same tables. When respectfully asked to not sit on the table tops or put their feet on the seats and to have put on their masks and or gloves, we have been disregarded and/or sneered at like we don’t matter. Many staff conveniently have something covering their names so we can’t issue a complaint. Those we have issued complaints on, from what is recognized, are not being reprimanded in a way to establish intolerance.

Subsequently staff are still disregarding policy, often clustered in groups and talking with their mask on their chin, even in the buildings during mealtimes where exposure is more significant. The severity of the affront is in the fact that sergeants and lieutenants are often present when this is occurring. Even with meals being issued in same buildings now staff are still behaving the same and what makes this more troubling is that tables, benches, and other high touch surfaces are not being disinfected afterwards or prior to evening program release. There really is so much, but I want to get this out. I will eventually call the hotline, and I will also write more in hope that together we will prevail in the advocacy of unified compliance and preventing the spread of this deadly virus.

I cannot claim that my efforts have been effective, but I am at least attempting to lift my voice in this cause and the demand that CDCR staff be held accountable for their indifference and or blatant respect for human life, our life. My next step is to bring accountability to CDCR, Ironwood management supervisors.

All the best

11/20
Mental side effects
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Mental side effects

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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Ironwood.

Caller: Hi. I’m in Ironwood State Prison and I’m consistently watching the detrimental mental health effects that inmates are suffering from the coronavirus from not being able to have visits with their family. Whether they be contact or Skype visits. Continually things are taken away from the inmates here and it has tons of mental side effects. Morale is down. Actually, the only thing that has been given to inmates during this time is now they hand out these drug scripts free.

That hey if you want them, you can have them, just go line up. So, now all kinds of people are becoming drug addicts again. And people are rolling out from drug deaths. It’s horrible watching what people are going through because they’re falling to a crutch now. Please help us. Please speak up for us.

Inmates need visits, whether they be Skype or in person. It’s a very important part of rehabilitation and helps people address their character defects. Please speak up for the inmates. A lot of them are in a position where they can’t speak up for themselves.

Mental side effects

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