Mule Creek

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

Since March 2020, there have been 1,847 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.

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

Caller: Well, I was tested on December 2nd, and then the following evening, December 3rd, I was called down to the podium and was retested. And 12 days later I was then isolated into a gym, where there was I believe about 90 people, 90 other inmates, there for a 14-day isolation period.

So, I should have technically been in the gym for two days. I spent eight days in the gym. In my opinion, the gym was very unsanitary, very cold, very closely compacted. Everybody was pretty close together. The cleaning was very, very poor. The food was very cold. Masks were not mandated.

They were from time to time, you know, handed out. But, you know, from everything we’re hearing on the TV, it just didn’t seem to be that serious of a situation. The toilets were all outdoors. They had one indoor toilet, but it wouldn’t, you know, service 90 or 100 people. So, they had several of them outside. Our showers were, was, an outside unit where I personally had to take a cold shower because the water wouldn’t keep up with the amount of people using the unit.

I can’t swear to it, but I’ve been informed that there’s been actually two staff members and two inmates that have died at this prison from the virus. But my biggest issue was the fact of – let me back up a minute. Back to this past summer, we had an inmate in where I was housed who had some illness.

They took him out very rapidly. They brought him back in a wheelchair completely covered in a sheet, and the staff member was in full PPE. They were, it appeared that they were assuming that he had the virus. Well, they emptied out his entire cell, put his cellies into a side room overnight, and left him in his cell by himself. And this is before this had become a real big outbreak, and they acted very quickly, very urgently with it.

Come to be the next day or two days later, everybody’s back in the cell. It wasn’t the virus. Well, now that it has hit the amount that it has, the severity that it has, they’re very laissez – what’s the word, lackadaisical?

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: I’m not pronouncing that right, I know. But like I said, I was tested, and it was 12 days after I had been tested that they told me that I was positive and that I needed to go into isolation.

And that’s been across the board, many people being left in their living quarters with everybody else after they have been tested for several days and then finally isolated.

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Caller: Well, I was tested on December 2nd, and then the following evening, December 3rd, I was called down to the podium and was retested. And 12 days later I was then isolated into a gym, where there was I believe about 90 people, 90 other inmates, there for a 14-day isolation period.

So, I should have technically been in the gym for two days. I spent eight days in the gym. In my opinion, the gym was very unsanitary, very cold, very closely compacted. Everybody was pretty close together. The cleaning was very, very poor. The food was very cold. Masks were not mandated.

They were from time to time, you know, handed out. But, you know, from everything we’re hearing on the TV, it just didn’t seem to be that serious of a situation. The toilets were all outdoors. They had one indoor toilet, but it wouldn’t, you know, service 90 or 100 people. So, they had several of them outside. Our showers were, was, an outside unit where I personally had to take a cold shower because the water wouldn’t keep up with the amount of people using the unit.

I can’t swear to it, but I’ve been informed that there’s been actually two staff members and two inmates that have died at this prison from the virus. But my biggest issue was the fact of – let me back up a minute. Back to this past summer, we had an inmate in where I was housed who had some illness.

They took him out very rapidly. They brought him back in a wheelchair completely covered in a sheet, and the staff member was in full PPE. They were, it appeared that they were assuming that he had the virus. Well, they emptied out his entire cell, put his cellies into a side room overnight, and left him in his cell by himself. And this is before this had become a real big outbreak, and they acted very quickly, very urgently with it.

Come to be the next day or two days later, everybody’s back in the cell. It wasn’t the virus. Well, now that it has hit the amount that it has, the severity that it has, they’re very laissez – what’s the word, lackadaisical?

UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: I’m not pronouncing that right, I know. But like I said, I was tested, and it was 12 days after I had been tested that they told me that I was positive and that I needed to go into isolation.

And that’s been across the board, many people being left in their living quarters with everybody else after they have been tested for several days and then finally isolated.

I don’t know if I mentioned that the food that we are being served was very cold. And matter of fact, they were doing vitals for everybody checking your O2 saturation, your temperature, and your blood pressure.

And they would make the – make us wait for our chow until they were done doing that with everybody in the cell, and that could take a couple three hours at times.

UCI: No, I was going to say were they extending dinnertime then to accommodate for you guys having to get tested prior to going?

Caller: I don’t follow your question. Ask me one more time.

UCI: You said that you all had to get tested right before you would go down to eat. Is that correct?

Caller: Well, it was, like I said, just the vitals. It wasn’t the COVID test.

UCI: Oh, vitals. Okay, okay.

Caller: Okay, just the vitals. And it didn’t happen every time, but it happened a few times within the eight days that I was there. When they would be doing the vitals, chow would show up, but they would put chow on hold until they were done doing all of the vitals. And chow comes first before the vitals because it’s only going to hold temperature for so long, and most of the time anyways it was cold already, so.

Oh, another thing, the laundry. Only one time in the eight days that I was there did they actually bring in some sheets and blankets to replace our linens. But there were 91 people in there, and they only brought enough for 38 people. There’s no way for us to really wash our own laundry. The facilities just were not set up to do what we need to do to be clean.

Oh, and showers were every three days, every 72 hours, as if we had been on a disciplinary lockdown. You know, during this virus, hygiene is paramount. They’re always talking about and pushing, “Wash your hands. Wash your hands.” But yet they don’t let us shower but every 72 hours, and that’s ongoing. Matter of fact, there even was a sergeant and lieutenant spoken to about it, and they said, “Well, that’s what the PSR says to do,” which is the program status report.

And that is what delineates what is to be allowed and what isn’t. So, do you have any other questions? ‘Cause I think I’ve kinda covered what I wanted to say.

UCI: Yeah, no, this has been great. You mentioned very early on that all of your – most of the bathrooms were outside. Can you explain why that is?

Caller: Well, because there’s only one toilet in the gym, and that is not enough for 90 to 100 people.

And so they’ve got outhouses, the porta potties, outside. I didn’t count them, but I’m going to say there’s maybe a dozen of them out there. But they lock the gym door at 9:00, so we don’t even get to use the toilet. Well, we have to use it when we have to use it. But, you know, they lock the gym door at 9:00, so we no longer have access to those porta potties.

UCI: Okay, so you’re then required to just wait until the morning basically if you have to go to the restroom or use the one that services, what did you say, upwards of 90 people or so?

Caller: Yeah, I believe the capacity of bunks that they put in the gym was 100.

UCI: A 100.

Caller: And when I was there, I believe the most that was there was, like, 91.

UCI: So, do you think that a huge reason why maybe some of your case numbers have gone up recently is because they’re waiting such a long time to tell people they’ve tested positive, and then they’re mixing among other people and not quarantining or taking the steps? Yeah?

Caller: Yes. And they are just mass moving everybody and shuffling everybody from – there’s a couple of yards that the guys – matter of fact, I’ve heard of guys that went down to the lower gyms on the level three and the level four yards from the level twos, and they’re just being shuffled.

I heard stories from a couple other guys I know. You know, I’m not speaking on their behalf, but they told me that they were moved six times in four days from a particular building into other gyms and just constantly being shuffled around. It’s almost like they’re trying to spread it even more so than what it would –

Had they just simply locked everybody down into their housing units and left everybody where they were and just monitored those that had severe symptoms and then took them into isolation and treated them, it would not have spread to the extent that it has spread.

UCI: Right, yeah. And in your experience, too, you were moved and just left there, right, just waiting for your testing and probably around other people who have also tested positive and who were just, you know, hanging out.

Caller: Yes. And –

UCI: Oh, go ahead.

Caller: Well, I was just going to say thankfully I had no serious symptoms from it, very, very mild. I’ve had the flu way worse than what I’ve had, you know, from this. But I have seen many guys in there that were just, you know, really suffering, and they were just left in there. Matter of fact, before I even went to the gym, there was a guy in my housing unit who was very sick, and he even told them that he was, and they didn’t – they just left him there.

They didn’t take him because his test results hadn’t come back is all I can assume, because once your test results came back from your COVID, that’s when they isolated you in the gym or in another housing unit that they had designated for isolation.

UCI: And when you guys are – you know, let’s say you test positive. Are you given any medical attention at all if you need it?

Caller: Well, they monitor your symptoms.

I know a bunch of people who were given cough drops, vitamins, which me personally I never received. Thankfully, I didn’t need them. But, yeah, if they get serious enough, their O2 saturation drops down to a certain level, they have taken guys out to the hospital. And I know there was a few that left the gym while I was there, and we got word back that one of them had died. I don’t know who. But, yeah.

UCI: Well that’s, I mean, that’s so, I mean, that’s hard. Have you been able to cope with any of this? Have you expressed any of this? I mean, how much do you tell your loved ones?

Caller: Well, yeah, we have the phone calls and all. But even just speaking with you right now, my emotions are kind of raw because it’s like, you don’t really have an outlet in here, you know, it’s not something that you express in an emotional way, you know.

You talk about it with everybody, and everybody’s complaining about it. Everybody’s aware of what’s going on in here. But to actually have any kind of healing or closure from it, it’s, you know, it’s not easy in here. It’s very hard. But, uh, after doing – you kind of become – you kind of get used to, you know, how to deal with things and just, you know, kinda shrug it off.

But it doesn’t mean it’s easy. But you just learn to let it go over time.

UCI: Yeah, I mean, are you guys given – you know, this may be kind of a redundant question, but are you given any outside time to get, you know, some fresh air, just breathe for a minute?

Caller: Yeah, they are giving us a limited yard schedule. It’s not a daily thing. Like, this week, we have tomorrow morning for and then, two hours and then Wednesday afternoon for two hours, and that’s it for the week.

But, you know, when I was in the gym, nothing for eight days. They did say they had two hours in the evening assigned for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but one night there was too much fog. The next night there was a lot of movement going on, you know, people coming and going out of the gym. They were, you know, moving people around, so they didn’t open the yard. You know, so, for eight days we were stuck inside, you know, doing nothing but sitting on our bunk and, you know, just passing time.

UCI: So, very, you know, sporadic if you do get it.

Caller: Very, at this point in time.

UCI: Yeah, well, thank you so much for calling. If you could leave anybody with just an idea of what’s going on inside, what would be kind of, your main thing you’d want, you know, the public to know?

Caller: Well, funny you say because I just heard Governor Newsom talk today about the things that they’re doing and being very proactive in the CDCR system, and what he was putting out there is not what’s happening in here, far from it. It’s very, very poorly managed.

We’re being told medical is calling the shots in here, but they don’t know what they’re doing. They are not taking into consideration the human lives that they’re impacting and the emotional and psychological effect that it’s having on everybody.

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