Lancaster

CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON, LOS ANGELES IS LOCATED IN WEST LANCASTER, CA,
HOUSING 3,218 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,511 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 13 deaths, at this facility.

Stories from Lancaster

12/20
Reckless endangerment
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Reckless endangerment

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Lancaster.

About a week ago I have wrote your organization about our safety here at CSP – Los Angeles, and its COVID-19 outbreak. Within a few days of my last letter, our entire yard facility went on quarantine status, that’s now over 800 inmates on full quarantine. The outbreak is massive, with already one COVID-19 confirmed inmate-related death.

Despite the outburst of COVID-19 rapidly spreading, CDCR correctional officers still remain rebellious to follow masking and physical distancing safety protocols, and ranking officers are allowing it. These officers are laughing at us as the virus spreads without a humanitarian care, it’s like a game to them to pass their work times as entertainment. They’re often poking us with cruel wise jokes and jesters to dehumanize us and to give them an excuse for their reckless and endangerment of our lives. We are being seen like cage reptiles.

Why is California government jeopardizing our lives and trying to make us contain herd immunity. Many inmates are being forced out of quarantine to work and have us come into contact with others that have been exposed to COVID-19. Officers are running their on program despite the safety protocols that should be followed.

For about several days our entire prison here in Los Angeles have been experiencing 100 inmates confirm cases of COVID-19 per day and rising. Why are we being forced to hold heard immunity and treated as entertainment for correctional officers?

Reckless endangerment

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11/20
Emotional times
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Emotional times

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Lancaster.

The two outlets that have gotten me through these difficult and emotional times have been (1) my joy of collecting postage stamps and (2) my love for dogs. The daily combination completes and fulfills my life with enjoyment, especially now.

I have been a philatelist since the age of ten. During this “modified program,” I had a chance to organize my humble collection of near one thousand stamps. I send my duplicates to a schoolteacher in Ohio who in turn distributes them to his students. There is a small group of stamp collectors in my building. We share stories of the past regarding our hobby. Non-collectors save stamps from their mail for us. I have quite an assortment but foreign and domestic. I’ve visited nearly 40 foreign countries.

Before coming to prison, I lost most of my personal possessions. My family was able to save my vast stamp collection. They slowly send me certain parts. Mint commemorative sin all different denominations that I place on outgoing mail. I rarely use “Forever” stamps. The multiple stamps I use – about 4 to 5 – must add up to the current 55 cent letter rate. I now have time to match my stamps with person’s interest. I probably have more fun than the person receiving them.

I’m sure people on the “outside” are dusting off their collections. Their hobby has endured wars, famines, and it will outlast this deadly virus. Stamps teach us about geography, history, established customs/traditions, different currencies, and relevant topics that include past, present, and future innovations and inventions. It gives me a chance to escape and travel. The only rules imposed are those of my imagination. This is why philately is known as the “Hobby of Kings!”

Being part of the Paws for Life Dog Program is a dream come true for me. Over 30 dogs lived in my building. Yes, often it does get loud, but their barking is music to my ears. Their unconditional love can’t help but give me comfort and delight. The affection and closeness shared between us has had a calming and peaceful effect on us both. Walking and jogging together in the medium-high-desert – 2,710 feet – is wonderful. Beside short potty breaks, we are allowed outside every other day for three hours. We both return to my room thirsty and exhausted. We relax on my cozy bed until we catch our breath.

Paws For Life is one of the best programs in prison. I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of being a trainer for the past three years. I’ve helped over 20 dogs get adopted instead of euthanized. I got attached to many of them. A forever home was a loving family is our goal.

One particular dog comes to mind. “Caper” was hit by a car. When he first arrived, we – two friends and myself – had to carry him back and forth to use the restroom.

The first month, we put him through daily physical therapy exercises. Caper seemed to know we were helping him and loved the attention. Massaging and stretching his injured hind leg brought us closer. After a few weeks, his stitches were removed. Caper disliked the cone around his head as his fragile leg healed. He recovered in record time. Since he was only six months old, Caper was a playful puppy. He learned all the basic commands fast! He was adopted almost immediately.

From being wheeled in on a cart and us carrying him outside, to him leaping up on my comfy bed is quite a thrilling event to witness. Our motto is, we work hard so our dogs can have a better life. Caper did his part too! The day he, Caper, left it was raining, so no one could tell I was crying.

The full story

Go Back

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

In early March 2020, the world suddenly changed for us living in the Untied States. People were whispering and rumors were flying. A new kind of virus began to spread rapidly, worse than the flu. Unseen and invisible, silently bounding oceans and speeding across continents. It seemed like the plot of a Hollywood horror film more than reality.

On March 19th, California became the first state in the union to issue mandatory “Stay at Home” orders. Businesses shut down, jobs were lost, sports cancelled, church closed, and college and schools shuttered. People began dying, resulting in total confusion as things collapsed around us.

Being incarcerated in a California state prison in Lancaster, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the situation. Being as isolated as we are, the news sources available are limited. Telephone calls and letters to and from family members and friends are the best way to get important local information. My sister gives me updates on inmates and guards who have tested positive for the newly named “coronavirus” (COVID-19 for short). I’ve asked the medical people and prison personnel. No transparency whatsoever. No comment, I’m told. The only way we can get infected is by someone bringing the virus in. Some guards take it seriously, while others are lax.

Living in close quarters, germs, diseases, cold, and flus spread rapidly. All we can do is avoid those with possible contagious symptoms that are transmitted by the infected person. Medical health coverage in prison doesn’t compare to the excellent care offered by typical doctors or hospitals in the “free world.” To be fair, some prison health employees try their best.

I have a subscription to the “USA Today” newspaper. In the National’s Health section, there is a “News from the Fifty States” page. Lately, each state’s paragraph mentions the coronavirus. Nursing homes and prisons seem to be the hardest hit.

Does the typical citizen care about elderly residents? Do they care about convicted felons? In regard to the first question, I hope so. To the latter, I’m not so sure. “Let them die, so we don’t have to pay for their expenses,” could be the view of some. If you don’t personally know someone in either, your attitude may be less humane. A dozen Death Row inmates have died in San Quentin because of COVID-19. Perhaps, even a majority were happy about it.

The first notice we received was all outside visits were cancelled. Then, non-essential outside individuals were denied entry to conduct educational classes and religious services. Currently, all meals are brought to our rooms. We were packed into the “chow hall” like sardines. Rushed in and out. Now I can take my time and savor every bite. The quality and quantity hasn’t changed, surprisingly.

Masks were given out to each man, free of charge. If we leave our rooms, we must wear one. The guards were instructed to wear one and/or use a plastic face shield.

The RN’s came by twice a day to ask questions and to take our temperatures, and everyone was given the deluxe nostril swab test back in May. A long wire was inserted into a nostril, down your throat, twisted and removed. Los Angeles County, where I’m housed, has one of the highest number of cases – 210,000 – and deaths – 5,000 – related to the coronavirus in the country. The numbers continue to rise daily.

Prison officials continued to transfer prisoners, some against their will, to other prisons during this pandemic. They were not quarantined upon arrival at their destination. Infection rates soared. I understand the top health official who authorized the moves was “reassigned.” His faulty decision and error in judgment has cost men their lives. Why aren’t criminal charges being filed?

Many men have come up with creative and ingenious ways to relieve stress and boredom during the pandemic. Some of these intriguing and astonishing ideas aren’t available at all state prisons. The men have learned to adapt and adjust accordingly at each institution.

The two outlets that have gotten me through these difficult and emotional times have been (1) my joy of collecting postage stamps and (2) my love for dogs. The daily combination completes and fulfills my life with enjoyment, especially now.

I have been a philatelist since the age of ten. During this “modified program,” I had a chance to organize my humble collection of near one thousand stamps. I send my duplicates to a schoolteacher in Ohio who in turn distributes them to his students. There is a small group of stamp collectors in my building. We share stories of the past regarding our hobby. Non-collectors save stamps from their mail for us. I have quite an assortment but foreign and domestic. I’ve visited nearly 40 foreign countries.

Before coming to prison, I lost most of my personal possessions. My family was able to save my vast stamp collection. They slowly send me certain parts. Mint commemorative sin all different denominations that I place on outgoing mail. I rarely use “Forever” stamps. The multiple stamps I use – about 4 to 5 – must add up to the current 55 cent letter rate. I now have time to match my stamps with person’s interest. I probably have more fun than the person receiving them.

I’m sure people on the “outside” are dusting off their collections. Their hobby has endured wars, famines, and it will outlast this deadly virus. Stamps teach us about geography, history, established customs/traditions, different currencies, and relevant topics that include past, present, and future innovations and inventions. It gives me a chance to escape and travel. The only rules imposed are those of my imagination. This is why philately is known as the “Hobby of Kings!”

Being part of the Paws for Life Dog Program is a dream come true for me. Over 30 dogs lived in my building. Yes, often it does get loud, but their barking is music to my ears. Their unconditional love can’t help but give me comfort and delight. The affection and closeness shared between us has had a calming and peaceful effect on us both. Walking and jogging together in the medium-high-desert – 2,710 feet – is wonderful. Beside short potty breaks, we are allowed outside every other day for three hours. We both return to my room thirsty and exhausted. We relax on my cozy bed until we catch our breath.

Paws For Life is one of the best programs in prison. I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of being a trainer for the past three years. I’ve helped over 20 dogs get adopted instead of euthanized. I got attached to many of them. A forever home was a loving family is our goal.

One particular dog comes to mind. “Caper” was hit by a car. When he first arrived, we – two friends and myself – had to carry him back and forth to use the restroom.

The first month, we put him through daily physical therapy exercises. Caper seemed to know we were helping him and loved the attention. Massaging and stretching his injured hind leg brought us closer. After a few weeks, his stitches were removed. Caper disliked the cone around his head as his fragile leg healed. He recovered in record time. Since he was only six months old, Caper was a playful puppy. He learned all the basic commands fast! He was adopted almost immediately.

From being wheeled in on a cart and us carrying him outside, to him leaping up on my comfy bed is quite a thrilling event to witness. Our motto is, we work hard so our dogs can have a better life. Caper did his part too! The day he, Caper, left it was raining, so no one could tell I was crying.

To summarize, this coronavirus has taken a toll on human beings inside prison and outside in society. The cost in life, health, and suffering continues to this day.

Rumors of vaccines on the horizon have been promoted in the near future. Cases of COVID-19 pandemic persist in spite of taking precautions. California – my state – has surpassed every state, including New York. Los Angeles County – where I live – was the highest numbers in the state. The count rises daily with no end in sight. Slowly, the virus came to this prison. Soon it infected this yard – Facility A – where I live. Now, men in my building have contracted it. Since I’m 65 years old, it is a little worrisome.

This prison has solid doors as compared to bars. This helps contain the disease. Two men per room. Men that live in dorm settings are particularly vulnerable and susceptible to getting symptoms and affecting others. Social distancing practice is impossible. Prisons are overcrowded already.

The governor has promised to release inmates close to their release date early. He is taking a lot of heat for this humanitarian gesture. As I stated before, some people don’t value the lives of those incarcerated.

My parents, aged 92 and 93, live in a retirement home. There is a small nursing facility on the property. My mom’s leg has a blood clot and perhaps will need an operation. She will spend a few days there getting evaluated. My father isn’t allowed to visit her because of the coronavirus. They are rarely separated, especially overnight. Even though this seems insignificant to many, it is a hardship for them both. Hopefully, they will be reunited soon.

In closing, I’d like to offer my sympathy and compassion to individuals who have lost loved ones, those in the hospital fighting for their lives, and the people who have recovered from this dreadful, widespread outbreak. Those health care workers on the frontlines are to be praised and commended for their dedication to the profession. Risking their lives to care for and comfort those unknown to them is truly a selfless act of love.

There are two types of people I hope we all aspire to be: (1) the person who performs a kindness and (2) the person who is thankful for the kindness done.

10/20
Somewhat safe
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Somewhat safe

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Lancaster.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing regarding my experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, I feel somewhat safe as long as I can remain in the cell by myself. Having a cellmate puts more strain and stress on the situation because we can never tell if our cellmates are taking preventive measures to protect themselves and their cellmates, for example, proper social distancing, disinfecting the phone properly before usage, and hand washing period.

As an African American with underlying conditions, I’m more cautious for my own safety. At this prison we do have a mandatory mask policy unless you are isolated. They do provide double cloth masks as needed. There is hand sanitizers in the day room area, but it’s still not enough to make a person feel safe. The only comfort I feel is being isolated outside and being in the cell alone. Unfortunately, the problem with us being infected stems from the staff, which is unavoidable.

The full story

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

To whom it may concern,

I am writing regarding my experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, I feel somewhat safe as long as I can remain in the cell by myself. Having a cellmate puts more strain and stress on the situation because we can never tell if our cellmates are taking preventive measures to protect themselves and their cellmates, for example, proper social distancing, disinfecting the phone properly before usage, and hand washing period.

As an African American with underlying conditions, I’m more cautious for my own safety. At this prison we do have a mandatory mask policy unless you are isolated. They do provide double cloth masks as needed. There is hand sanitizers in the day room area, but it’s still not enough to make a person feel safe. The only comfort I feel is being isolated outside and being in the cell alone. Unfortunately, the problem with us being infected stems from the staff, which is unavoidable.

How do I feel about the reduced visiting? Well, reduced implies that we get some type of visitation, which is false. We have been cut off from that comfort aspect. I understand the concern of possible spread from our families, but some safety measures can be implemented for family visiting overnight.

Regular visiting can be limited to ensure social distancing, for example, 50% capacity, one-hour sessions followed by 4 spots. Family visits can be approved via rapid testing prior to proceeding our visitors, as well as a limit of 2 visitors max.

That’s my opinions, feelings, and views regarding this pandemic.

12/20
Vicious cycle
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Vicious cycle

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Lancaster.

I mentioned that I am also suffering from the aftereffects of traumatic brain injury and I cannot afford to get COVID because COVID causes brain swelling and when I had my injury, my brain swelled and I had a blood vessel burst and intracranial bleeding- I almost died. I asked for the system to at least consider commutation or at the very least, medical told me to go to custody- custody told me to file with medical. And then the vicious cycle continues forever.

The full story

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

To: PrisonPandemic Project

This is how things are going in Lancaster, A Facility. Although there has not been a massive outbreak here, I have been noticing that the conditions are substandard.

We are not given disinfectant that kills coronavirus – or anything else on a regular basis. We should be given Pinesol, which has been proven to kill coronavirus on a weekly basis- and each cell should get either Lysol or an effective hand sanitizer.

In the building, we have one bottle of hand sanitizer on the podium for the entire building.

We should be given be given antibacterial or antiviral hand soap, not bar soap. Bar soap that is made by PIA clogs the sinks and that leaves stagnant water in our sinks. Dove hand soap does go down the drain, but they stopped giving that to us.

The system is not releasing the prisoners who have been in prison for a long time. There is no remedy for them- they have to stay in prison until they die! Many have requested that they be considered for release due to corona risks. The system makes excuses to not do so or passes the buck or flat out denies them.

There are a lot of people in CA prisons with life sentences that are either innocent or have been overcharged due to the program of mass incarceration and the system does absolutely nothing about it. They in fact make sure that these people stay in prison until they turn to dust. The system is not even considering compensation for those who have either been wrongfully convicted, overcharged, who have excellent prison records and are first timers with LWOP. They do nothing except make sure everyone stays in prison. Especially the innocent- because the program of mass incarceration has to do with making money off of warehousing people.

They know the innocent will never come back to prison, so they can’t make money off of the innocent, so they’ll never let them go free. They have no problem freeing career criminals. This agenda puts the general public in danger in California. The safest people to release are the innocent- especially those who are in prison for the first time- because they are not criminals!

I have LWOP, but yet in 2011, all witnesses recanted and said I am totally innocent, the key witness apologized to me and my family for destroying my life for all those years. But the courts still can’t grant habeas, give me a new trial- or even reduce my sentence. DNA evidence came up negative. The murder went to court, testified, which revealed that she instigated the murder and protected her boyfriend who did the murder by threatening the key witness, that she should keep her mouth shut. And the rich loaded the other way and then reaffirmed the condemnation of my life to never ever be released.

I have an excellent record in prison, I have C/Os recommending I be granted clemency, that I am not a threat to the public and my continued incarceration is not in interests of justice. But- nothing.

I mentioned I am also suffering from the aftereffects of traumatic brain injury and I cannot afford to get COVID because COVID causes brain swelling and when I had my injury, my brain swelled and I had a blood vessel burst and intracranial bleeding- I almost died. I asked for the system to at least consider commutation- at the very least, medical told me to go to custody- custody told me to file with medical. And then the vicious cycle continues forever.

I was an average Joe citizen when I was free. The complaints about the corruption in the system are not exaggerated, nor are they the false ranting of criminals whining. The corruption is real. I used to work for a living. I had no idea the judicial system was this bad until I lived in it.

Yes, even in a world-wide pandemic, the prison and judicial system will not do the right thing- try to reduce the prison population by letting go of the people who don’t belong there.

Instead, they release short-termers who are going to go home anyway. They just kick them out several months before their release, and crime does not stop. The prisons fill back up. The people who never go home are lifers.

Also, the only way to ensure that people in prison will not get the virus is if the CDCR mandated that everyone be single-celled. Otherwise, this will go on forever. They’ll have to change the Title 15 in an emergency rule change to mandate single cells for everyone- and they’ll have to drastically reduce the prison population.

11/20
Jeopardizing lives
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Jeopardizing lives

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Lancaster.

In early March 2020, the world suddenly changed for us living in the Untied States. People were whispering and rumors were flying. A new kind of virus began to spread rapidly, worse than the flu. Unseen and invisible, silently bounding oceans and speeding across continents. It seemed like the plot of a Hollywood horror film more than reality.

On March 19th, California became the first state in the union to issue mandatory “Stay at Home” orders. Businesses shut down, jobs were lost, sports cancelled, church closed, and college and schools shuttered. People began dying, resulting in total confusion as things collapsed around us.

Being incarcerated in a California state prison in Lancaster, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the situation. Being as isolated as we are, the news sources available are limited. Telephone calls and letters to and from family members and friends are the best way to get important local information. My sister gives me updates on inmates and guards who have tested positive for the newly named “coronavirus” (COVID-19 for short). I’ve asked the medical people and prison personnel. No transparency whatsoever. No comment, I’m told. The only way we can get infected is by someone bringing the virus in. Some guards take it seriously, while others are lax.

Living in close quarters, germs, diseases, cold, and flus spread rapidly. All we can do is avoid those with possible contagious symptoms that are transmitted by the infected person. Medical health coverage in prison doesn’t compare to the excellent care offered by typical doctors or hospitals in the “free world.” To be fair, some prison health employees try their best.

I have a subscription to the “USA Today” newspaper. In the National’s Health section, there is a “News from the Fifty States” page. Lately, each state’s paragraph mentions the coronavirus. Nursing homes and prisons seem to be the hardest hit.

Does the typical citizen care about elderly residents? Do they care about convicted felons? In regard to the first question, I hope so. To the latter, I’m not so sure. “Let them die, so we don’t have to pay for their expenses,” could be the view of some. If you don’t personally know someone in either, your attitude may be less humane. A dozen Death Row inmates have died in San Quentin because of COVID-19. Perhaps, even a majority were happy about it.

The first notice we received was all outside visits were cancelled. Then, non-essential outside individuals were denied entry to conduct educational classes and religious services. Currently, all meals are brought to our rooms. We were packed into the “chow hall” like sardines. Rushed in and out. Now I can take my time and savor every bite. The quality and quantity hasn’t changed, surprisingly.

Masks were given out to each man, free of charge. If we leave our rooms, we must wear one. The guards were instructed to wear one and/or use a plastic face shield.

The RN’s came by twice a day to ask questions and to take our temperatures, and everyone was given the deluxe nostril swab test back in May. A long wire was inserted into a nostril, down your throat, twisted and removed. Los Angeles County, where I’m housed, has one of the highest number of cases – 210,000 – and deaths – 5,000 – related to the coronavirus in the country. The numbers continue to rise daily.

Prison officials continued to transfer prisoners, some against their will, to other prisons during this pandemic. They were not quarantined upon arrival at their destination. Infection rates soared. I understand the top health official who authorized the moves was “reassigned.” His faulty decision and error in judgment has cost men their lives. Why aren’t criminal charges being filed?

The full story

Go Back

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

In early March 2020, the world suddenly changed for us living in the Untied States. People were whispering and rumors were flying. A new kind of virus began to spread rapidly, worse than the flu. Unseen and invisible, silently bounding oceans and speeding across continents. It seemed like the plot of a Hollywood horror film more than reality.

On March 19th, California became the first state in the union to issue mandatory “Stay at Home” orders. Businesses shut down, jobs were lost, sports cancelled, church closed, and college and schools shuttered. People began dying, resulting in total confusion as things collapsed around us.

Being incarcerated in a California state prison in Lancaster, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the situation. Being as isolated as we are, the news sources available are limited. Telephone calls and letters to and from family members and friends are the best way to get important local information. My sister gives me updates on inmates and guards who have tested positive for the newly named “coronavirus” (COVID-19 for short). I’ve asked the medical people and prison personnel. No transparency whatsoever. No comment, I’m told. The only way we can get infected is by someone bringing the virus in. Some guards take it seriously, while others are lax.

Living in close quarters, germs, diseases, cold, and flus spread rapidly. All we can do is avoid those with possible contagious symptoms that are transmitted by the infected person. Medical health coverage in prison doesn’t compare to the excellent care offered by typical doctors or hospitals in the “free world.” To be fair, some prison health employees try their best.

I have a subscription to the “USA Today” newspaper. In the National’s Health section, there is a “News from the Fifty States” page. Lately, each state’s paragraph mentions the coronavirus. Nursing homes and prisons seem to be the hardest hit.

Does the typical citizen care about elderly residents? Do they care about convicted felons? In regard to the first question, I hope so. To the latter, I’m not so sure. “Let them die, so we don’t have to pay for their expenses,” could be the view of some. If you don’t personally know someone in either, your attitude may be less humane. A dozen Death Row inmates have died in San Quentin because of COVID-19. Perhaps, even a majority were happy about it.

The first notice we received was all outside visits were cancelled. Then, non-essential outside individuals were denied entry to conduct educational classes and religious services. Currently, all meals are brought to our rooms. We were packed into the “chow hall” like sardines. Rushed in and out. Now I can take my time and savor every bite. The quality and quantity hasn’t changed, surprisingly.

Masks were given out to each man, free of charge. If we leave our rooms, we must wear one. The guards were instructed to wear one and/or use a plastic face shield.

The RN’s came by twice a day to ask questions and to take our temperatures, and everyone was given the deluxe nostril swab test back in May. A long wire was inserted into a nostril, down your throat, twisted and removed. Los Angeles County, where I’m housed, has one of the highest number of cases – 210,000 – and deaths – 5,000 – related to the coronavirus in the country. The numbers continue to rise daily.

Prison officials continued to transfer prisoners, some against their will, to other prisons during this pandemic. They were not quarantined upon arrival at their destination. Infection rates soared. I understand the top health official who authorized the moves was “reassigned.” His faulty decision and error in judgment has cost men their lives. Why aren’t criminal charges being filed?

Many men have come up with creative and ingenious ways to relieve stress and boredom during the pandemic. Some of these intriguing and astonishing ideas aren’t available at all state prisons. The men have learned to adapt and adjust accordingly at each institution.

The two outlets that have gotten me through these difficult and emotional times have been (1) my joy of collecting postage stamps and (2) my love for dogs. The daily combination completes and fulfills my life with enjoyment, especially now.

I have been a philatelist since the age of ten. During this “modified program,” I had a chance to organize my humble collection of near one thousand stamps. I send my duplicates to a schoolteacher in Ohio who in turn distributes them to his students. There is a small group of stamp collectors in my building. We share stories of the past regarding our hobby. Non-collectors save stamps from their mail for us. I have quite an assortment but foreign and domestic. I’ve visited nearly 40 foreign countries.

Before coming to prison, I lost most of my personal possessions. My family was able to save my vast stamp collection. They slowly send me certain parts. Mint commemorative sin all different denominations that I place on outgoing mail. I rarely use “Forever” stamps. The multiple stamps I use – about 4 to 5 – must add up to the current 55 cent letter rate. I now have time to match my stamps with person’s interest. I probably have more fun than the person receiving them.

I’m sure people on the “outside” are dusting off their collections. Their hobby has endured wars, famines, and it will outlast this deadly virus. Stamps teach us about geography, history, established customs/traditions, different currencies, and relevant topics that include past, present, and future innovations and inventions. It gives me a chance to escape and travel. The only rules imposed are those of my imagination. This is why philately is known as the “Hobby of Kings!”

Being part of the Paws for Life Dog Program is a dream come true for me. Over 30 dogs lived in my building. Yes, often it does get loud, but their barking is music to my ears. Their unconditional love can’t help but give me comfort and delight. The affection and closeness shared between us has had a calming and peaceful effect on us both. Walking and jogging together in the medium-high-desert – 2,710 feet – is wonderful. Beside short potty breaks, we are allowed outside every other day for three hours. We both return to my room thirsty and exhausted. We relax on my cozy bed until we catch our breath.

Paws For Life is one of the best programs in prison. I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of being a trainer for the past three years. I’ve helped over 20 dogs get adopted instead of euthanized. I got attached to many of them. A forever home was a loving family is our goal.

One particular dog comes to mind. “Caper” was hit by a car. When he first arrived, we – two friends and myself – had to carry him back and forth to use the restroom.

The first month, we put him through daily physical therapy exercises. Caper seemed to know we were helping him and loved the attention. Massaging and stretching his injured hind leg brought us closer. After a few weeks, his stitches were removed. Caper disliked the cone around his head as his fragile leg healed. He recovered in record time. Since he was only six months old, Caper was a playful puppy. He learned all the basic commands fast! He was adopted almost immediately.

From being wheeled in on a cart and us carrying him outside, to him leaping up on my comfy bed is quite a thrilling event to witness. Our motto is, we work hard so our dogs can have a better life. Caper did his part too! The day he, Caper, left it was raining, so no one could tell I was crying.

To summarize, this coronavirus has taken a toll on human beings inside prison and outside in society. The cost in life, health, and suffering continues to this day.

Rumors of vaccines on the horizon have been promoted in the near future. Cases of COVID-19 pandemic persist in spite of taking precautions. California – my state – has surpassed every state, including New York. Los Angeles County – where I live – was the highest numbers in the state. The count rises daily with no end in sight. Slowly, the virus came to this prison. Soon it infected this yard – Facility A – where I live. Now, men in my building have contracted it. Since I’m 65 years old, it is a little worrisome.

This prison has solid doors as compared to bars. This helps contain the disease. Two men per room. Men that live in dorm settings are particularly vulnerable and susceptible to getting symptoms and affecting others. Social distancing practice is impossible. Prisons are overcrowded already.

The governor has promised to release inmates close to their release date early. He is taking a lot of heat for this humanitarian gesture. As I stated before, some people don’t value the lives of those incarcerated.

My parents, aged 92 and 93, live in a retirement home. There is a small nursing facility on the property. My mom’s leg has a blood clot and perhaps will need an operation. She will spend a few days there getting evaluated. My father isn’t allowed to visit her because of the coronavirus. They are rarely separated, especially overnight. Even though this seems insignificant to many, it is a hardship for them both. Hopefully, they will be reunited soon.

In closing, I’d like to offer my sympathy and compassion to individuals who have lost loved ones, those in the hospital fighting for their lives, and the people who have recovered from this dreadful, widespread outbreak. Those health care workers on the frontlines are to be praised and commended for their dedication to the profession. Risking their lives to care for and comfort those unknown to them is truly a selfless act of love.

There are two types of people I hope we all aspire to be: (1) the person who performs a kindness and (2) the person who is thankful for the kindness done.

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