Mule Creek

MULE CREEK STATE PRISON IS LOCATED IN IONE, CA,
HOUSING 4,007 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,874 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 9 deaths, at this facility.

Stories from Mule Creek

01/21
Need surgery
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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Mule Creek.

UCI: What would make the situation at your facility better? Just like training for the staffers? Or do you guys need any other sort of help?

Caller: Yeah, staff to have the correct training on what to do and for staff to have repercussions if they don’t follow the rules. ‘Cause like we gotta follow rules, they should have to follow the rules too.

UCI: And how have you or other inmates been coping with all of this? Are you guys able to have like, at least help inside? Or is there anything that you can do to alleviate the stress?

Caller: Well like I’m CCCMS, and I’ve put in numerous requests to talk to my clinician and I still haven’t been able to talk to him. Before I put it in, I had to put it in like five or six times and then my clinician will finally come out and talk to me. But I put in like, multiple requests tryin’ to get to talk to him about what I’m going through and stuff like that and I haven’t been able to see nobody.

And then like I said with this broken ankle I got on the 9th, I’m still waiting for surgery, the hospital told me I needed emergency surgery, like right away and today’s the 14th and I still haven’t had surgery. And I put in multiple requests to medical and they still won’t respond back.

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UCI: What is the current COVID-19 situation at your facility? Is everything okay? What is troubling or concerning you, if there’s anything?

Caller: No, it’s kinda messed up because they got people housed in the gyms when they’re not supposed to. Like they lock them in at nine o’clock at night. They lock the door and they can’t use the restroom ‘til seven o’clock the next morning, seven or eight.

They’re housed in dirty conditions. The medical, like ‘cause I’m diabetic, so the medical they come like hour to hour and a half after allotted time for us to get our diabetic shots. So we ended a- I ended up having a diabetic attack and I fell and split my face open. And the cops ended up breaking my ankle in the attack. I guess they were hittin’ on me and pushing on me from what witnesses said. Plus it took ‘em an hour just to come and respond to the alarm when I passed out.

A lot of times the staff here don’t wear their masks, but then they force everybody else to wear masks. They force people to work. It don’t matter if they can or can’t. Yeah I mean a lot of it’s just unnecessary stuff that can be fixed and done the right way. They just choose not to do it.

UCI: So with what’s happening now, was it different in the beginning of the pandemic or is it sort of like the same all throughout since March of last year, the way that these things have been happening?

Caller: Well in the beginning they were kinda like, they had more of a handle on it and they were doing things more, the correct way. But now since they’re doin’ whatever they want, they’re gettin’ tired of dealing with it, they getting tired of dealing with it like it’s the inmates’ faults that we have COVID. But we didn’t get it until a staff brought it in to us, ‘cause we’re in a secluded area, so.

UCI: I see. So would you say the treatment of inmates has gotten progressively worse since the beginning?

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: Oh I see, and what would make the situation at your facility better? Just like training for the staffers? Or do you guys need any other sort of help?

Caller: Yeah, staff to have the correct training on what to do and for staff to have repercussions if they don’t follow the rules. ‘Cause like we gotta follow rules, they should have to follow the rules too.

UCI: And how have you or other inmates been coping with all of this? Are you guys able to have like, at least help inside? Or is there anything that you can do to alleviate the stress?

Caller: Well like I’m CCCMS, and I’ve put in numerous requests to talk to my clinician and I still haven’t been able to talk to him. Before I put it in, I had to put it in like five or six times and then my clinician will finally come out and talk to me. But I put in like, multiple requests tryin’ to get to talk to him about what I’m going through and stuff like that and I haven’t been able to see nobody.

And then like I said with this broken ankle I got on the 9th, I’m still waiting for surgery, the hospital told me I needed emergency surgery, like right away and today’s the 14th and I still haven’t had surgery. And I put in multiple requests to medical and they still won’t respond back.

UCI: And is it, or have you heard from other prisoners to see if it’s backed up? Or do you think it’s just pure neglect that they don’t, that they’re not answering to your concerns?

Caller: No it’s not me. It’s multiple other inmates that are going through the same thing. It’s just pure like, ignorance like they just don’t wanna do it. And their excuse is just ‘cause it’s COVID-19, they’re backed up on logs, their logs are backed up, but I mean c’mon they can at least you know come and talk to me or somethin’.

UCI: So you mentioned that you weren’t able to speak with your clinician? Did I hear that correct? Hello?

Caller: Hello?

UCI: Hello. So you mentioned that you weren’t able to speak with your clinician, or?

Caller: Yeah.

UCI: So does that have like, the fact that you couldn’t speak with your clinician, does that affect your visitation hours or other inmates’ visitation hours? Has anybody at your facility been able to see loved ones or anyone since the pandemic started?

Caller: No. No, they said they got these video visits goin’ on, but now there’s a bunch of stipulations where you can’t go to video visits. But like my people, they don’t have a way of doin’ the video visits. So me, I haven’t been able to see my loved ones in over a year now.

UCI: I see.

Caller: My grandma’s got real bad dementia so you know she’s goin’ through it, she’s really goin’ through it, so the only time I get to talk to her is on the phone.

UCI: Oh, I see. And if that’s the case, how have you been coping with the crisis?

Caller: Um, it’s been real hard. It’s been real hard. I try to do a lot of meditation, you know. I try, I write letters you know, to my loved ones, try to help me with the stress but sometimes it gets overwhelming you know?

UCI: I see. And so for these calls we only have a 15-minute time limit and we’re approaching the 10-minute mark, so I just wanted to ask if there was anything else that you want people to know about your experience with the pandemic?

Caller: Well I just want people to know about, ‘cause a lot of them, they don’t know about what’s going on inside the prison walls, and that’s why I called ‘cause I wanted to let people know and get it out there what’s actually going on in here. ‘Cause out there, the prisons actually letting people think, make people think that everything is going to plan in here when it really ain’t.

Everything’s all jacked up and they’re in there mistreating inmates and just abusing the whole system all the way around. So I just wanted to get that out there to the public to let them know. To help them realize what’s really going on in here.

UCI: I see, and is there anything else you’d like to add? Or is this what you wanted to talk about today?

Caller: No that’s about it.

01/21
Mail not existent
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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Mule Creek.

UCI: So how has the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones? Are you still able to see people or has that been cut off since, like, March?

Caller: Well, it was uh, I was in the first group, so everything was rough then. I still had access to a phone to talk to my loved ones, and things of that nature. But for a lot of others, because my situation is a little different, you know, depending, considering my job here.

UCI: Mhm.

Caller: But for a lot of others, no, it was very hard for them. Especially in the beginning, when mail was not existent, and mail was still behind based on holidays, but they didn’t want to touch our mail, they said due to COVID, they didn’t want to exchange mail or pick up mail. So yeah, it was a big deal, like, in the beginning it was difficult.

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UCI: So what is the current COVID-19 situation at your facility? Is it going okay? Is there anything troubling or concerning to you?

Caller: It’s, um, it started smoothing itself out. They’re trying to figure out what to do, but, that was just as of last week, considering they started around Thanksgiving.

UCI: Oh.

Caller: So what’s troubling is, they were locking people in the gyms with terrible conditions, unsafe environment. Asking people to constantly move while they’re sick, grabbing their property, going to different gyms, relocating. I think possibly, I was, I know I was relocated four times in the two weeks of the recommended quarantine.

UCI: Mhm.

Caller: You don’t rest, you don’t get cleaning supplies. It was just a big mess. Temperature check was kind of a joke because you get asymptomatic people, it didn’t matter. People weren’t getting their results back. People were actually negative that had results, they were still housed in the gym with the positive, uh, people who tested positive. It was all around horrible.

UCI: I see. So, were they not providing, like, masks or letting prisoners do social distancing of six feet, so they weren’t following protocol?

Caller: Okay so, the six feet social distancing was violated in Facility A, B, and C gyms. Those gyms originally had single-man cots, and they were removed, and they put in bunks, double bunks for two people to be housed on, and they took the social distancing sign off the top bunk and then used them. It said, “do not use for social distancing purposes,” but they stashed those signs down and doubled us up in facilities A, B, and C.

UCI: I see.

Caller: Approximately 80 to 100 people at one time.

UCI: And, so, how they handled it, or how you just described, was that happening throughout? Like, so, did that start in March or did that kind of like, just occur as-

UCI: Sorry.

Caller: It started approximately the week of Thanksgiving, in between like, November 22nd and 26th.

UCI: So would you say at the beginning it was being handled, like, well, or how was it different from the beginning of Thanksgiving?

Caller: Disgustingly poorly. We were considered luggage and storage in the beginning. There were separating us from our property, giving us false instructions, saying that we were going to move back to our spots in two weeks.

We ended up getting in a row, like a journey challenge, gym to gym, going through different conditions. Half the backs were laundry exchange, we only got laundry exchange once in that whole time. Uh, Facility B gym had no air, consistent hot water, which was, they let the steam go kind of, you know, circulation, no ventilation whatsoever.

Then you go to Facility C, which was extremely cold, fans blasting, I mean we’re talking about 50 degrees in there, no hot water, so, and no clean spots. Once again, the A and B gyms. I never did experience the Facility D and E gyms, but I know the people who experienced it that were locked in overnight, and on hourly unlock.

It was hard for them to use the bathroom, some of them were actually urinating in empty Pedialyte bottles over trashcans because they couldn’t hold it.

UCI: I see.

Caller: Officers continue to try to blame medical, but I mean, because they had to take some part in something, just being civilized.

UCI: So, what would make the situation at your facility better? Is there anything that you guys particularly need? Is it just more attention to what’s going on, or should there be like better resources?

Caller: Well, there’s nothing better. The only thing that’s better about it is its almost over. Like, there, almost everybody caught it. They report the numbers consistently wrong all the time.

Um, but those who keep testing negative, they’re putting them in situations to catch it, or taking away their programs. Because they’re saying that we’re high risk, and they’re trying to keep them safe, but you can’t keep them safe if you just lock them away and say they can’t have a program until they catch it.

So, it’s like you’re punished for being—for not catching it, you’re being punished for catching it. They won’t allow them to have video visits because of it. It’s just ridiculous here. It’s not well planned out. They failed.

UCI: So, is there anything that would make the situation better? To, like, I would say, improve the situation there?

Caller: Well, the program- the vaccine of course would need to roll out sooner, because right now staff is taking it. But, people who further along in the future, who test positive, they need to lock those cells down instead of them moving in to other locations, which cause possible spread to others.

UCI: I see. And, um, so how has the COVID-19 situation at your facility affected your loved ones? Are you still able to see people or has that been cut off since, like, March?

Caller: Well, it was uh, I was in the first group, so everything was rough then. I still had access to a phone to talk to my loved ones, and things of that nature. But for a lot of others, because my situation is a little different, you know, depending, considering my job here.

UCI: Mhm.

Caller: But for a lot of others, no, it was very hard for them. Especially in the beginning, when mail was not existent, and mail was still behind based on holidays, but they didn’t want to touch our mail, they said due to COVID, they didn’t want to exchange mail or pick up mail. So yeah, it was a big deal, like, in the beginning it was difficult.

UCI: I see, so, how have you been coping with the crisis, with everything that’s been going on?

Caller: Me? Um, the sickness was hard because of the consistent moving without resting. And this is actually our second time having it, they didn’t report it the first time earlier this year, because they didn’t know what it was.

But, this is not our first time going—our first go around with it. This is the first time the institution, they finally admitted it.

So, uh, we kind of were familiar with what was going on, considering what happened earlier around this time last year. So, it’s dealing with, it was easier to deal with because I knew what to expect, but it was just rough because the sickness is so hard on your body. And all you got was diarrhea medicine and cold packs and Pedialyte and Gatorade. It’s nowhere near solving anything. It calms symptoms down but, you’re sick.

UCI: I see. So, when you refer to the second round, is that, like, corona cases surging at your facility?

Caller: Yes. Because, um, this time last year, you had, approximately four buildings were quarantined, and staff was calling in very sick, and the same symptoms, the muscle aches, the whole paper they give you, the whole symptoms they run to you.

I actually took a flu test and passed and tested negative for both strands, so we were trying to figure out what we had. And everybody figured it out later on. Administration was starting to admit it slowly but surely, that yeah, they believe it swept through here.

But then, there were no reports, the infectious disease nurse didn’t have any answers, and, uh, yeah, we muscled through it before. So, everybody knew what it was the second time.

UCI: Oh?

Caller: Yeah, oh yeah.

UCI: Um, so, these calls are only 15 minutes long in nature, and we just approached the 10-minute mark, so I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to let anyone, or let people know about anything else that’s been going on or any other things you want to mention or bring up?

Caller: Yes. Medical administration needs to really need be looked into in Mule Creek State Prison, and they falsified the numbers on the computer, it was almost double the amount every time they reported numbers as far as having people were, uh, had contracted it. So they falsified the numbers.

UCI: I see. And, aside from that, is that all that you wanted to share for today, or is there anything else you’d like to highlight or bring up?

Caller: As far as today, they did uh, they sent all doctors to the gyms where people were housed and gave them blanket false stories of how you can and can’t test and the symptoms, and things of that nature, didn’t match up.

They said you couldn’t test positive for 90 days straight, but in fact, staff had to get two negatives within 10 to 14 days to come back to work, and they were able to do so, so we were trying to figure out how we were different from staff when we’re both humans. It was just a lot of lies.

UCI: I see. Okay so, the call is about to end soon, is there anything else you would want to share about your experience?

Caller: As far as my experience, I would like to let them know that most of the officers here did support us, and they did urge the appeal, but I expect—I really believe all the families should try and check with their loved ones and report it to the highest authority they can, inspector generals, state auditors, and so forth.

UCI: Thank you so much. And just one more time, just to make sure that I am able to capture your story, is there anything else you want us to know about your experience? If not, it’s totally okay, just so you know.

Caller: Um, no, that’s pretty much it. It was just horrible. It was really horrible.

UCI: I see. Well, thank you very much.

12/20
Overcrowded gym
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This story was told by a person incarcerated at Mule Creek.

Caller: They have cots, metal bunks, some metal bunks, and the majority of these fold-out cots, a lot of the cots are broken. A lot of the cots are broken. They’ve got like rips down the middle. They was moving people in constantly that was sick, and there’s no more cots for them.

So, they’re just standing around with their property until the cops go get more cots. And we tell them, “Where are you going to put them? We’re supposed to be six feet. You’ve got dudes head to toe in here.”

UCI: So, it’s been, the gym specifically, has been overcrowded the entire time?

Caller: Yes, and it’s right now the same way. I just left on the 27th, and it’s like that right now. They gave us, the staff, the COs, they gave us this COVID because we can’t go nowhere, but yet you punish us. You take our program. You do all this stuff. But you can come to work with it? We can’t go to work. They took my job from me.

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UCI: For the record, it is December 28th, 2020, at 6:21 p.m. So, why don’t you – what’s going on with COVID-19 at your facility?

Caller: Okay, I’m kind of nervous right now, so excuse me. I’m calling on behalf of all of the inmates here. I just was found positive for COVID-19, and I was taken out of my housing unit and put in this gym that houses 100-plus guys, which it was a deplorable.

No cleaning supplies, no, you can’t socially distance yourself. There’s people everywhere. There’s so many health violations that is going on in here. They have these porta potties that they don’t even clean regularly. A shower every three days actually like I’m in ad seg like I’d done something wrong. In the whole 16 days that I was in here, I only got two showers.

UCI: Wow.

Caller: They never gave out. They gave me three masks in the 16 days that I was there, and we were supposed to get a clean mask every day. There’s so many different fire hazards in there. People are sleeping by the doors and all that. Let me see, I wrote down little notes.

UCI: Oh, yeah.

Caller: I never received my, when you become positive for COVID-19, you are supposed to get vitamin C and zinc and stuff like that. Never received it. There’s a handful of us that never received those pills. There’s officers and staff admittedly coming to work having COVID and that they’re not reporting it.

The bathroom that is inside of the gym, you’re not supposed to, you’re only supposed to stand up and use it. But people have to use the restroom, and they shut down the porta potty at 9:00. So, you will have to use that bathroom. So, there was, like, 15 people at 3:12 in the morning trying to use the restroom because there’s so many people using the bathroom all throughout the day, older guys, young guys.

They have two sinks, three total, but one is in that bathroom I told you about. But there are two sinks that everybody uses to not only get drinking water but brush their teeth and wash their clothes. There is no fresh linen at all. What they were doing to us, it was just horrible.

UCI: Wow. Do you mind stating what facility you’re in?

Caller: Mule Creek.

UCI: If it’s not too much of a problem, would you mind describing the timeline? Since the start of the pandemic to now, what have you gone through? What’s changed in the prison?

Caller: Their handling of it is just horrible. Even when they find somebody positive, the inmate is just running around for four or five days. They tested me on a Thursday, and they didn’t take me until three or four days later. So, I was like spreading it. Finally, when they started moving people, they took you out of your cells, told you to leave all your personal property in your cell, and then they’ll move you away to another yard, A yard, B yard.

And they’re still doing it. They’re moving people everywhere. And your personal property was just left there, and they have some other inmate come pack your stuff. So, now people have got property missing. Fortunately, I took all of my property with me. But I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people that are missing stuff.

It’s 66 people in each pod. Nobody’s in there, just their personal property, because they moved them all. They put them on level four because they have a building down there for quarantine, instead of just locking us in the cell. It was freezing cold in that damn gym. I’m talking about just it’s crazy. And they’ve got this shower that it looks like a trailer, and you only can use it every three days. The hot water runs out because there’s so many people. So, you’ve got to go outside in the cold to take a cold shower.

UCI: Wow.

Caller: There’s so many people in there right now that’s pissed off, and they’re trying to figure out a way to get heard. They’re violating our rights.

UCI: Yeah. Is that the general consensus?

Caller: They have cots, metal bunks, some metal bunks, and the majority of these fold-out cots, a lot of the cots are broken. A lot of the cots are broken. They’ve got like rips down the middle. They was moving people in constantly that was sick, and there’s no more cots for them.

So, they’re just standing around with their property until the cops go get more cots. And we tell them, “Where are you going to put them? We’re supposed to be six feet. You’ve got dudes head to toe in here.”

UCI: So, it’s been, the gym specifically, has been overcrowded the entire time?

Caller: Yes, and it’s right now the same way. I just left on the 27th, and it’s like that right now. They gave us, the staff and the COs, they gave us this COVID because we can’t go nowhere, but yet you punish us. You take our program. You do all this stuff. But you can come to work with it? We can’t go to work. They took my job from me.

UCI: Yeah. You said ñ you described it as punishment. Does it feel that way?

Caller: It’s just like a punishment. We can barely go to yard. We get yard three times a week, and it’s only for a few hours. You can’t have dayroom. They want you to stay in a cell. You only can have showers and phones and microwave. Why people can’t come out and stretch their legs? You’re only giving us so much yard a week.

UCI: What’s that?

Caller: I don’t understand it but –

UCI: Oh, but what’s that doing to, that sounds really difficult. How are people coping? How are you coping with all of this?

Caller: For the most part, I try to work out and stay positive if I can, because I know not everyone is doing this intentionally. But it’s almost like they are forgetting that we’re human beings by the way that they’re going about it. They’re not trying to get our opinion on how to go about this because we have to deal with it. They come and go.

UCI: When you say “they” or “the people,” who are you, are you talking about CDCR?

Caller: Yeah, the CDC, the people that controls all this. Now, they’re giving options to take the COVID test. They didn’t give us options before.

UCI: So, can you volunteer for that?

Caller: Yeah. They’re saying you can sign a refusal. Before, they would threaten you. And I’m close to going to the board. I can’t get a write-up. I can’t afford a write-up. And plus, it’s COVID. I’m like, “Okay, I can’t smell. I can’t taste. I’ve got this blinding headache. Let me go get tested. I feel like I’ve got symptoms.”

So, I tried to do the right thing, and I feel like I got punished. Not only did they ñ I’m in some other place now because they took me out of the gym. But I’m in some other place now that this is not originally where I was at.

UCI: Do you feel like a lot of people have been shuffled around like that, even beyond just going to the gym and what not, and people are getting rehoused?

Caller: Right. They’ve been putting people in level four. They’ve got a whole building over there just for quarantine, and people are going over there. They’re going to B yard, C yard, the gyms. They’re even turning a building up here into COVID overflow. And what’s so crazy about it, the people in the building got to have regular showers every day and stuff like that, but we didn’t.

People in that gym are living in filth. There’s no way to clean your sheets. There’s no way to clean your clothes. If you get lucky like I did, I brought my own stuff, my own [00:13:11 unintelligible]. But sharing with all the dudes that asked me, I ran out.

UCI: So, you were helping the other guys out in the gym?

Caller: Right. I gave them everything I had. I had my own bucket, so I let them use my bucket to wash their clothes in, so they didn’t have to wash their clothes inside of a nasty sink that people brush their teeth, wash their clothes, and get drinking water out of.

UCI: It kind of sounds like you guys are doing more for one another than anyone else at this point. You think that sounds right?

Caller: Right, right. We try to band together and help each other out the best way we can. Older guys that have got walkers and wheelchairs, we’d help them get to their bunk the best we can. Give them a bunk that’s not a cot, because they were saying if you’ve got a cot, you don’t get a mattress, which is crazy because everybody brought their mattress. So, now you’re taking people’s mattresses.

UCI: Oh, wow.

Caller: Yeah. They came in saying, “If you sleep on a cot, we’re taking your mattress.”

UCI: With the time that’s left, is there anything that you want the people on the outside to know?

Caller: Just if they can send somebody, if you guys can get somebody to come in here and see this, specifically the gym, you would see what I’m talking about. It’s dirty.

12/20
Deplorable
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Deplorable

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Caller: I’m calling on behalf of all of the inmates here. I just was found positive for COVID-19, and I was taken out of my housing unit and put in this gym that houses 100-plus guys, which it was a deplorable. No cleaning supplies, no, you can’t socially distance yourself. There’s people everywhere. There’s so many health violations that is going on in here. They have these porta potties that they don’t even clean regularly. A shower every three days actually like I’m in ad seg like I’d done something wrong. In the whole 16 days that I was in here, I only got two showers.

UCI: Wow.

Caller: They never gave out. They gave me three masks in the 16 days that I was there, and we were supposed to get a clean mask every day. There’s so many different fire hazards in there. People are sleeping by the doors and all that. Let me see, I wrote down little notes.

UCI: Oh, yeah.

Caller: I never received my, when you become positive for COVID-19, you are supposed to get vitamin C and zinc and stuff like that. Never received it. There’s a handful of us that never received those pills. There’s officers and staff admittedly coming to work having COVID and that they’re not reporting it.

The bathroom that is inside of the gym, you’re not supposed to, you’re only supposed to stand up and use it. But people have to use the restroom, and they shut down the porta potty at 9:00. So, you will have to use that bathroom. So, there was, like, 15 people at 3:12 in the morning trying to use the restroom because there’s so many people using the bathroom all throughout the day, older guys, young guys.

They have two sinks, three total, but one is in that bathroom I told you about. But there are two sinks that everybody uses to not only get drinking water but brush their teeth and wash their clothes. There is no fresh linen at all. What they were doing to us, it was horrible.

UCI: Wow.

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UCI: For the record, it is December 28th, 2020, at 6:21 p.m. So, why don’t you – what’s going on with COVID-19 at your facility?

Caller: Okay, I’m kind of nervous right now, so excuse me. I’m calling on behalf of all of the inmates here. I just was found positive for COVID-19, and I was taken out of my housing unit and put in this gym that houses 100-plus guys, which it was a deplorable.

No cleaning supplies, no, you can’t socially distance yourself. There’s people everywhere. There’s so many health violations that is going on in here. They have these porta potties that they don’t even clean regularly. A shower every three days actually like I’m in ad seg like I’d done something wrong. In the whole 16 days that I was in here, I only got two showers.

UCI: Wow.

Caller: They never gave out. They gave me three masks in the 16 days that I was there, and we were supposed to get a clean mask every day. There’s so many different fire hazards in there. People are sleeping by the doors and all that. Let me see, I wrote down little notes.

UCI: Oh, yeah.

Caller: I never received my, when you become positive for COVID-19, you are supposed to get vitamin C and zinc and stuff like that. Never received it. There’s a handful of us that never received those pills. There’s officers and staff admittedly coming to work having COVID and that they’re not reporting it.

The bathroom that is inside of the gym, you’re not supposed to, you’re only supposed to stand up and use it. But people have to use the restroom, and they shut down the porta potty at 9:00. So, you will have to use that bathroom. So, there was, like, 15 people at 3:12 in the morning trying to use the restroom because there’s so many people using the bathroom all throughout the day, older guys, young guys.

They have two sinks, three total, but one is in that bathroom I told you about. But there are two sinks that everybody uses to not only get drinking water but brush their teeth and wash their clothes. There is no fresh linen at all. What they were doing to us, it was just horrible.

UCI: Wow. Do you mind stating what facility you’re in?

Caller: Mule Creek.

UCI: If it’s not too much of a problem, would you mind describing the timeline? Since the start of the pandemic to now, what have you gone through? What’s changed in the prison?

Caller: Their handling of it is just horrible. Even when they find somebody positive, the inmate is just running around for four or five days. They tested me on a Thursday, and they didn’t take me until three or four days later. So, I was like spreading it. Finally, when they started moving people, they took you out of your cells, told you to leave all your personal property in your cell, and then they’ll move you away to another yard, A yard, B yard.

And they’re still doing it. They’re moving people everywhere. And your personal property was just left there, and they have some other inmate come pack your stuff. So, now people have got property missing. Fortunately, I took all of my property with me. But I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people that are missing stuff.

It’s 66 people in each pod. Nobody’s in there, just their personal property, because they moved them all. They put them on level four because they have a building down there for quarantine, instead of just locking us in the cell. It was freezing cold in that damn gym. I’m talking about just it’s crazy. And they’ve got this shower that it looks like a trailer, and you only can use it every three days. The hot water runs out because there’s so many people. So, you’ve got to go outside in the cold to take a cold shower.

UCI: Wow.

Caller: There’s so many people in there right now that’s pissed off, and they’re trying to figure out a way to get heard. They’re violating our rights.

UCI: Yeah. Is that the general consensus?

Caller: They have cots, metal bunks, some metal bunks, and the majority of these fold-out cots, a lot of the cots are broken. A lot of the cots are broken. They’ve got like rips down the middle. They was moving people in constantly that was sick, and there’s no more cots for them.

So, they’re just standing around with their property until the cops go get more cots. And we tell them, “Where are you going to put them? We’re supposed to be six feet. You’ve got dudes head to toe in here.”

UCI: So, it’s been, the gym specifically, has been overcrowded the entire time?

Caller: Yes, and it’s right now the same way. I just left on the 27th, and it’s like that right now. They gave us, the staff and the COs, they gave us this COVID because we can’t go nowhere, but yet you punish us. You take our program. You do all this stuff. But you can come to work with it? We can’t go to work. They took my job from me.

UCI: Yeah. You said ñ you described it as punishment. Does it feel that way?

Caller: It’s just like a punishment. We can barely go to yard. We get yard three times a week, and it’s only for a few hours. You can’t have dayroom. They want you to stay in a cell. You only can have showers and phones and microwave. Why people can’t come out and stretch their legs? You’re only giving us so much yard a week.

UCI: What’s that?

Caller: I don’t understand it but –

UCI: Oh, but what’s that doing to, that sounds really difficult. How are people coping? How are you coping with all of this?

Caller: For the most part, I try to work out and stay positive if I can, because I know not everyone is doing this intentionally. But it’s almost like they are forgetting that we’re human beings by the way that they’re going about it. They’re not trying to get our opinion on how to go about this because we have to deal with it. They come and go.

UCI: When you say “they” or “the people,” who are you, are you talking about CDCR?

Caller: Yeah, the CDC, the people that controls all this. Now, they’re giving options to take the COVID test. They didn’t give us options before.

UCI: So, can you volunteer for that?

Caller: Yeah. They’re saying you can sign a refusal. Before, they would threaten you. And I’m close to going to the board. I can’t get a write-up. I can’t afford a write-up. And plus, it’s COVID. I’m like, “Okay, I can’t smell. I can’t taste. I’ve got this blinding headache. Let me go get tested. I feel like I’ve got symptoms.”

So, I tried to do the right thing, and I feel like I got punished. Not only did they ñ I’m in some other place now because they took me out of the gym. But I’m in some other place now that this is not originally where I was at.

UCI: Do you feel like a lot of people have been shuffled around like that, even beyond just going to the gym and what not, and people are getting rehoused?

Caller: Right. They’ve been putting people in level four. They’ve got a whole building over there just for quarantine, and people are going over there. They’re going to B yard, C yard, the gyms. They’re even turning a building up here into COVID overflow. And what’s so crazy about it, the people in the building got to have regular showers every day and stuff like that, but we didn’t.

People in that gym are living in filth. There’s no way to clean your sheets. There’s no way to clean your clothes. If you get lucky like I did, I brought my own stuff, my own [00:13:11 unintelligible]. But sharing with all the dudes that asked me, I ran out.

UCI: So, you were helping the other guys out in the gym?

Caller: Right. I gave them everything I had. I had my own bucket, so I let them use my bucket to wash their clothes in, so they didn’t have to wash their clothes inside of a nasty sink that people brush their teeth, wash their clothes, and get drinking water out of.

UCI: It kind of sounds like you guys are doing more for one another than anyone else at this point. You think that sounds right?

Caller: Right, right. We try to band together and help each other out the best way we can. Older guys that have got walkers and wheelchairs, we’d help them get to their bunk the best we can. Give them a bunk that’s not a cot, because they were saying if you’ve got a cot, you don’t get a mattress, which is crazy because everybody brought their mattress. So, now you’re taking people’s mattresses.

UCI: Oh, wow.

Caller: Yeah. They came in saying, “If you sleep on a cot, we’re taking your mattress.”

UCI: With the time that’s left, is there anything that you want the people on the outside to know?

Caller: Just if they can send somebody, if you guys can get somebody to come in here and see this, specifically the gym, you would see what I’m talking about. It’s dirty.

04/21
Back to the illusion
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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Mule Creek.

I am not a victim, a victim is a choice. I choose to not allow my environment to dictate who I am. I killed someone in 1998 and I deserve everything that happens to me.

That is my karma, and I accept it, however it makes me sad to see that the people who are supposed to help criminals change their lives are actually worse that the criminals.

Nietzsche said “Be careful when fighting monsters, you might become one yourself,” and that’s what happens a lot of the time. COs assimilate to us. They talk, walk, and act like us.

California prisons are a special case because gangs control them, and they end up deciding how we react to the pandemic. If an old man says be violent, we are violent. If the old man says stay down, we stay down.

The mafia dictates our behavior. Then you have SNY yards, they don’t know what to do. Most criminals are followers and they want to be told how to feel, when they don’t have that they are on robot mode.

They don’t feel. The saddest thing is this about the pandemic and criminals in general. We have very little education. A lot of us are okay being dumb.

We watch Jerry Springer and laugh. We eat, we drink, we do drugs, and we are happy. I am sorry to say this but 80 percent of people here fall into that category, and that can be fixed. But society prefers us like that, that way they have someone to point their fingers at.

The politicians, the priest, the crooked person. They need the criminal to exist and this pandemic didn’t change anything. They gave us the vaccine before the public. That was the worst thing they could have done.

Now we can resume the drug use, and the PIA sweatshops can resume. The COs can go back to doing nothing. We can go back to the illusion of rehabilitation. How I wish this place would help the people in it.

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

April 2021

Dear PrisonPandemic,

I hope you are well. I am really surprised that someone, or an organization, cares about prisoners. Thank you. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experience. But before I tell you my story, I will tell you a little about myself.

I have been incarcerated since March 1998. I have two years left. I have been a fuck up, but I changed my life in here, not because of anything the CDCR did, but because people like you helped my feel like a human again.

I work with two non-profits. I have published art and I co-authored a book about prisons in California. I am always happy to share how society sees us convicts.

It’s really sad how such a rich state can use so much money and resources to keep over 100,000 men and women, and still say that it’s the right thing to do.

On March 2020 or around there, we stopped getting visits. I was at Calipatria and was moved to Mule Creek because I got really sick. At Mule Creek, I came to this world where it seems like all reason goes out the door.

This place is strange. Once visits stopped, people started acting better because there were no more drugs coming in. The only drugs coming in was from the staff, and that’s very little, so not many people had access to them.

A lot of people got clean and some took to drinking a lot more. I thought that the prison was going to set up a way for us to stay in contact with our families but that was the last thing on their minds.

They posted on the prison webpage that we were given masks but none were given out. They said that we were staying six feet away, but none of that was enforced. We were all using the same six phones.

There was no plan for anything. None of the COs would wear their masks. There were a lot of arguments between the inmates and COs. Because the COs would tell the inmates to put their masks on when they wouldn’t do it themselves.

The COs were supposed to wear full PPE but they saw it as a joke. The funniest thing is when there is an audit and there were a few. All the COs tell the inmates when it’s happening and to comply while the audit is going on.

That happens at every prison. It is not possible to have a surprise audit in a prison. As soon as the auditors leave, it goes back to normal.

I personally have a girlfriend in South Carolina that I have been with for almost 11 years and it’s hard to see each other. And with this going on we haven’t seen each other in person for over a year.

I will tell you a sad fact. Most inmates don’t have anyone who gives a shit about them. I am lucky, but I see it everywhere.

A lot of people don’t even care. What this pandemic did was isolate people even worse. They are trying to start a tablet program in California prisons, and it’s about time.

This pandemic has shown how easily things can go bad. In Mule Creek, in my yard, only one person died. He worked with me, and the sad thing is that I never even spoke to him.

I do want to give credit to some of the family members, they had a protest in front of the prison, but nothing happened. The COs went out and intimidated the women. At least they tried.

You want to know the truth about this pandemic and prisons. We are last on the list for anything, and they try to hide everything. I got COVID in February of 2021 and they took us to the gym.

We were housed with a bunch of other men who were sick. But they never bothered to take a second test, because there were a lot of false positives. The prison hired a medical company to come and deal with the COVID-related medical.

They took our temperatures and blood pressure and asked if anything was wrong. I told them numerous times that I felt bad, and still do have problems with breathing, but they only wrote it down and did nothing.

CDCR hired them solely for the purpose of liability. The medical company did absolutely nothing for anyone. Once we spent 14 days in the gym, we were brought back to the cell and put in there with people who weren’t sick. Then they got sick.

Mule Creek State Prison made an effort to get everyone sick so they could resume the program. All they care about was not having to work. If you have ever worked, or observed a day in prison, COs do not like to work!

The one thing that they refused to shut down was the forced labor that they say is a program under the name of PIA. PIA supplies most of the supplies to CDCR and other state agencies. They found a way to keep making money out of the state after they retire.

The salaries these people pull is disgusting and the workers get 30 cents to 1 dollar and they break their backs working. They did not shut that down.

Honestly, prisoners are what Dostoyevsky said, “Made out of the toughest wood in the forest”. We can handle a lot of chaos. Most of us come from fucked up situations. Buddha said that given a certain environment, men will do things that are criminal.

That isn’t an excuse but society looks at people as individuals when actually we are part of a whole. And the society we live in has an obligation to its people. The European way of thinking helps its people, and the United States model makes more criminals.

I can speak for myself. I came in a naive kid. Now I can honestly say my mind is more criminally orientated. The only thing that helps me, is that I care.

I have people who give a shit what happens to me. CDCR did zero to help me, and it doesn’t help anyone but the people who draw a check from it.

I can’t say what the pandemic did specifically to us, but what I can tell you is that I saw on TV how the pandemic brought out the best in people out there. But in here, in here it did the opposite. It brought out the worst in the people who are in charge of us.

I am not a victim, a victim is a choice. I choose to not allow my environment to dictate who I am. I killed someone in 1998 and I deserve everything that happens to me.

That is my karma, and I accept it, however it makes me sad to see that the people who are supposed to help criminals change their lives are actually worse that the criminals.

Nietzsche said “Be careful when fighting monsters, you might become one yourself,” and that’s what happens a lot of the time. COs assimilate to us. They talk, walk, and act like us.

California prisons are a special case because gangs control them, and they end up deciding how we react to the pandemic. If an old man says be violent, we are violent. If the old man says stay down, we stay down.

The mafia dictates our behavior. Then you have SNY yards, they don’t know what to do. Most criminals are followers and they want to be told how to feel, when they don’t have that they are on robot mode.

They don’t feel. The saddest thing is this about the pandemic and criminals in general. We have very little education. A lot of us are okay being dumb.

We watch Jerry Springer and laugh. We eat, we drink, we do drugs, and we are happy. I am sorry to say this but 80 percent of people here fall into that category, and that can be fixed. But society prefers us like that, that way they have someone to point their fingers at.

The politicians, the priest, the crooked person. They need the criminal to exist and this pandemic didn’t change anything. They gave us the vaccine before the public. That was the worst thing they could have done.

Now we can resume the drug use, and the PIA sweatshops can resume. The COs can go back to doing nothing. We can go back to the illusion of rehabilitation. How I wish this place would help the people in it.

Thank you for allowing me to express my experience with you. I don’t know if I was of any help. If there are other projects that I would be helpful with, I would gladly do so.

I am a great activist, and a decent writer. I am trying to publish two books. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it from here but life’s not over. Hope keeps a person tolerating this thing called life.

Sincerely.

PS. How many criminals does it take to screw on a lightbulb? None, they’ll steal it from you.

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