Valley State

VALLEY STATE PRISON IS LOCATED IN CHOWCHILLA, CA,
HOUSING 2,999 PEOPLE.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,732 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2 deaths, at this facility.

Stories from Valley State

02/21
Freely infect others
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0:00
0:00

Freely infect others

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This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Valley State.

Meanwhile, I noticed some things about how the pandemic has been handled in prison. First, many staff members refused to wear masks for months. Inmates didn’t want to in many cases, but we were ordered to long before the officers were ordered to.

Next, when people were exposed to the virus, they were all moved to another building. I noticed that as they gathered on their original yard to await escort to the quarantine building, officers took all their IDs and put them together in one plastic bag. This procedure had never been done before.

When they got to the quarantine building, their IDs were redistributed. I kept wondering why, since many of them did not have the virus, why would they put all their IDs in one bag? It was a foolish thing to do if you did not want the virus to spread.

Eventually, I tested positive for the virus. So I was not moved to the same building as ‘exposed’ people. I went to a building for only people who tested positive. What I learned was this: To get out of that quarantined building (with no program all locked down), a person needed to report no symptoms for two weeks.

I hate to say this, but many prisoners are not completely honest. What did they do? Of course they did not want to stay locked in a room for 24 hours a day, so regardless of how they felt, they reported twice each day that they had no fever, they were released from quarantine after two weeks to freely infect others.

This was done with the knowledge of the federal medical receiver assigned to oversee California’s prisons. For some reason, instead of requiring a negative test to get out of quarantine, the receiver OK’d the word of each prisoner to self report symptoms other than vitals taken by nurses.

So they dumped still-sick inmates back into the population. That’s how I got the virus. A person in ‘so-called’ remission was placed in my room. Was all that intentional? I don’t know. Was it negligent? Yes.

The full story

Go Back

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

PrisonPandemic,

A friend of mine gave me a letter which invited inmates to share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to share the following, and I understand it could be publicly posted anonymously.

I have been incarcerated for more than 17 years with a 26-to-life sentence for murder. Otherwise, I had no record. I have been at Valley State Prison since it was converted to a men’s prison in 2012.

We inmates pay attention to the news, and we knew the pandemic would affect us although we did not know how. We remain vulnerable to overcrowding between 100 percent to 200 percent of design capacity, which, in turn, makes us extremely vulnerable to disease transmission.

Early in 2020, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations or CDCR reduced program dramatically in effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We, except for few critical workers, were no longer allowed to go to work, attend school, or attend self-help groups.

Our time for recreation on the yard became reduced to two hours per day so that only one building would be on the yard at a time. The CDCR reduced our access to dayrooms to two hours per day so that only one of four hallways would be in the dayroom at a time.

These changes reduced our ability to use telephones, and all visiting was cancelled. This caused our ability to contact family and friends to decrease greatly.

The CDCR took other measures to help in these areas. They worked with our telephone monopoly, GTL, to give us two days per month of free phone calls. They gave all of us without recent write ups a credit of 84 days off of our sentences.

Eventually, they allowed short video visits. Unfortunately, telephone access was reduced to half for social distancing, which made it very hard to sign up for a phone call.

Time dragged on as it usually does for prisoners except even more slowly. Reduced programming in prison and increased isolation is damaging to inmates unless they can find a way to protect their psychological and emotional systems.

To protect myself, I needed to stay busy being productive, so I started studying Hebrew and Spanish. I had in my possession a college textbook for learning how to read Hebrew, and later, I borrowed a Spanish book from the ‘Dummies’ series from a friend of mine.

I started with Hebrew and skimmed the book once and then started over methodically with a will and an overflow of time in my life to study. I studied for a few hours each day, sometimes as little as two and sometimes six or more.

After several months of study, I can read the Old Testament in Hebrew, and I know about 85 to 90 percent of all Old Testament Hebrew roots. Speaking the language would be a different story since I’ve never heard a conversation in Hebrew, but reading it has been a breakthrough to me.

I’ve been around Spanish speakers for much of my life, so I know a few words and phrases, but I started studying the Spanish for Dummies book, and I do recommend it. I recently started writing friends of mine in Mexico in Spanish! I’m starting to practice oral skills too.

Meanwhile, I noticed some things about how the pandemic has been handled in prison. First, many staff members refused to wear masks for months. Inmates didn’t want to in many cases, but we were ordered to long before the officers were ordered to.

Next, when people were exposed to the virus, they were all moved to another building. I noticed that as they gathered on their original yard to await escort to the quarantine building, officers took all their IDs and put them together in one plastic bag. This procedure had never been done before.

When they got to the quarantine building, their IDs were redistributed. I kept wondering why, since many of them did not have the virus, why would they put all their IDs in one bag? It was a foolish thing to do if you did not want the virus to spread.

Eventually, I tested positive for the virus. So I was not moved to the same building as ‘exposed’ people. I went to a building for only people who tested positive. What I learned was this: To get out of that quarantined building (with no program all locked down), a person needed to report no symptoms for two weeks.

I hate to say this, but many prisoners are not completely honest. What did they do? Of course they did not want to stay locked in a room for 24 hours a day, so regardless of how they felt, they reported twice each day that they had no fever, they were released from quarantine after two weeks to freely infect others.

This was done with the knowledge of the federal medical receiver assigned to oversee California’s prisons. For some reason, instead of requiring a negative test to get out of quarantine, the receiver OK’d the word of each prisoner to self report symptoms other than vitals taken by nurses.

So they dumped still-sick inmates back into the population. That’s how I got the virus. A person in ‘so-called’ remission was placed in my room. Was all that intentional? I don’t know. Was it negligent? Yes.

Beyond that, most people don’t know that one of the most stressful things you can do to an inmate is move him to another cell, room, building, yard or prison. He won’t feel safe while he’s being moved. He doesn’t know if danger awaits him in the next room he moves to. It’s very hard and stressful.

Overcrowding makes us vulnerable to disease. While the CDCR may report that Valley State Prison is at some lesser percentage, most buildings and rooms are at 175 to 200 percent of design capacity. How can they report a lower number?

Because they count rooms and buildings they should not. For example, the ‘hole’ on ad seg building represents 100 cells that are not normal housing. That shouldn’t count as open cells. Another entire building of 32 rooms with eight beds each is reserved for sick people.

These rooms should not be counted as capacity. My room, as most others, contains eight people but was designed for four! It’s a breeding ground for disease.

The problem is that the federal judges allows the CDCR to be at 137.5 percent of design capacity overall. That counts ad seg or punishment isolation, or administrative segregation, condemned areas, quarantine areas, etc.

During the time with the most cases here, inmates were housed in the gymnasium, chapels, and classrooms with porta-potties and cold portable showers! These were inmates with COVID-19!

To be ready for a pandemic, every prison throughout the state should be capped at 90 percent design capacity, and that capacity should never include ad seg, condemned areas or non-standard housing. Then the state would have the ability to move people around if needed and to create quarantine areas.

Until that happens, we cannot be kept safe regardless of how hard the wardens and staff work. They have been given an impossible situation to deal with. I’ve survived COVID-19, but others did not.

03/21
Forced us to comply
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0:00

Forced us to comply

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Valley State.

One building had a majority of the inmates refuse testing and the whole building was isolated for nearly two months. No access to phones or outside activities. This is how they forced us to comply, threaten what little freedoms we had left.

We broke. We complied. Not because it was the right thing to do but because we really had no choice.

Speaking of choice, we were finally offered a vaccine. A lot of inmates took it. Not due to a want or trust that it was safe to do, but out of fear and the feeling of not having a real choice.

I took the shot. Not because I wanted to but for the lack of choice. I thought “What option do I really have? Not take it, get sick, and possibly die or take it and hope it protects me and it was safe.” Most of the guys I talk to felt this way.

I understand the need to vaccinate and be socially responsible, but as an inmate we are at the mercy of prison officials and correctional officers to keep us safe. They failed. Inmates and correctional officers died.

The only difference is us inmates get to die alone with no love or support. No comfort. Why? Because prison is overcrowded and correctional officers were not responsible. All the pain we inmates endured and continue to endure will be forgotten.

We suffer in silence and we hold resentment and anger. Not at society or medical professionals but at the prison system that is overcrowded and ill-equipped to handle a mass medical crisis. These are the thoughts and a point of view of an inmate surviving a pandemic in prison.

I am thankful UCI is collecting stories about the effects of COVID in prisoners. That there will be a record of the human cost paid in prison. I, like others in prison, are coping by simply having hope.

We also develop strong personal bonds with other inmates. We create micro families and support each other. We survive and look to better days. We are human. We matter. We just are.

With all honesty.

The full story

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

COVID-19’s hidden victims,

I am serving a life term in the California Correctional System and have 21 years in. I am now 43 years old. Yep I came to prison at the age of 22. Just a lost kid on a lost path. I’ve seen such evils over the years and even more heartbreaking isolation.

I once went 10 years between visits with my mother. How I missed the comfort of my mother’s hug even as a grown man. My mom has health issues that limit the ability to travel. So I programmed and stayed out of trouble so I could transfer to Valley State Prison.

Putting me closer to her and allowing for us to have visits.

Unfortunately, her health condition has worsened over the last two years so visits have slowed down. I had a visit appointment for mid-March 2020. COVID-19 had already been chipping away at our programs in here like: work assignments, education, self-help programs, access to dayroom, and yard activities. One-by-one these programs were shut down.

Then the unthinkable happened. Visitation was suspended until further notice days before I was to have my visit. Nearly a year later there aren’t contact visits. As of about two months ago they started to offer 30-minute video visits.

This is only helpful to those who have access to or know how when it comes to technology. My mother is 77 and she doesn’t know how to use a smart phone. The inability to have that physical contact with a loved one is a strain. The strain is placed on all relationships especially with your wife or girlfriend.

I, along with other inmates, have lost these relationships due to the extra strain of lack of visits, access to phone calls, and how slow mail is processed. This is what COVID has done. Made our isolation even more extreme here in prison. This is just the isolation aspect of this pandemic.

Then inmates started to get sick. It was a wildfire that spread throughout a building in the blink of an eye. You can’t social distance when the facility is operating at 180 percent capacity. When you cram eight men in a cell designed to house six women, it becomes a breeding ground for a virus like COVID.

The prison officials were panicking, placing restriction upon restriction on inmates. Inmates were mandated to wear masks while correctional officers were not. That made no sense as it was the officers who were bringing COVID inside the prison.

Us inmates have been treated with much more animosity than usual because officers were getting sick and of course it must be inmates’ faults. I heard officers say “Who gives a shit if inmates get COVID. I am only concerned about us in green”, referring to other officers. More and more of us inmates felt as if we were being punished for COVID outbreaks.

Infected inmates were sent to an isolation building and their pod-mates, seven other inmates, would be sent to two-week quarantine in two-man cells. Only to be kicked out, not to their old building, but to a random building on a random yard. This further added to the extreme isolation growing in the inmate population. As the few friends and closeness one develops in a housing unit was broken.

The stress of someone getting sick and then being sent away was unbearable. So when people were getting sick, they tried to hide it and by doing so would spread the infection. We test weekly and you hold your breath for three days hoping you are not sick and if you refuse to test you are sent away to quarantine.

There were times when they would kick an inmate who tested positive out of isolation only to have that whole pod or cell test positive the following week. We started to believe the prison was trying to get inmates sick in order to build a “herd immunity”. Inmates were getting fed up. There were whispers of mass resistance against COVID testing and moving to quarantine cells.

One building had a majority of the inmates refuse testing and the whole building was isolated for nearly two months. No access to phones or outside activities. This is how they forced us to comply, threaten what little freedoms we had left.

We broke. We complied. Not because it was the right thing to do but because we really had no choice.

Speaking of choice, we were finally offered a vaccine. A lot of inmates took it. Not due to a want or trust that it was safe to do, but out of fear and the feeling of not having a real choice.

I took the shot. Not because I wanted to but for the lack of choice. I thought “What option do I really have? Not take it, get sick, and possibly die or take it and hope it protects me and it was safe.” Most of the guys I talk to felt this way.

I understand the need to vaccinate and be socially responsible, but as an inmate we are at the mercy of prison officials and correctional officers to keep us safe. They failed. Inmates and correctional officers died.

The only difference is us inmates get to die alone with no love or support. No comfort. Why? Because prison is overcrowded and correctional officers were not responsible. All the pain we inmates endured and continue to endure will be forgotten.

We suffer in silence and we hold resentment and anger. Not at society or medical professionals but at the prison system that is overcrowded and ill-equipped to handle a mass medical crisis. These are the thoughts and a point of view of an inmate surviving a pandemic in prison.

I am thankful UCI is collecting stories about the effects of COVID in prisoners. That there will be a record of the human cost paid in prison. I, like others in prison, are coping by simply having hope.

We also develop strong personal bonds with other inmates. We create micro families and support each other. We survive and look to better days. We are human. We matter. We just are.

With all honesty.

02/21
Reduced programming
LISTEN
0:00
0:00

Reduced programming

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Valley State.

Early in 2020, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations or CDCR reduced program dramatically in effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We, except for few critical workers, were no longer allowed to go to work, attend school, or attend self-help groups.

Our time for recreation on the yard became reduced to two hours per day so that only one building would be on the yard at a time. The CDCR reduced our access to dayrooms to two hours per day so that only one of four hallways would be in the dayroom at a time.

These changes reduced our ability to use telephones, and all visiting was cancelled. This caused our ability to contact family and friends to decrease greatly.

The CDCR took other measures to help in these areas. They worked with our telephone monopoly, GTL, to give us two days per month of free phone calls. They gave all of us without recent write ups a credit of 84 days off of our sentences.

Eventually, they allowed short video visits. Unfortunately, telephone access was reduced to half for social distancing, which made it very hard to sign up for a phone call.

Time dragged on as it usually does for prisoners except even more slowly. Reduced programming in prison and increased isolation is damaging to inmates unless they can find a way to protect their psychological and emotional systems.

To protect myself, I needed to stay busy being productive, so I started studying Hebrew and Spanish. I had in my possession a college textbook for learning how to read Hebrew, and later, I borrowed a Spanish book from the ‘Dummies’ series from a friend of mine.

The full story

Go Back

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

PrisonPandemic,

A friend of mine gave me a letter which invited inmates to share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to share the following, and I understand it could be publicly posted anonymously.

I have been incarcerated for more than 17 years with a 26-to-life sentence for murder. Otherwise, I had no record. I have been at Valley State Prison since it was converted to a men’s prison in 2012.

We inmates pay attention to the news, and we knew the pandemic would affect us although we did not know how. We remain vulnerable to overcrowding between 100 percent to 200 percent of design capacity, which, in turn, makes us extremely vulnerable to disease transmission.

Early in 2020, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations or CDCR reduced program dramatically in effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We, except for few critical workers, were no longer allowed to go to work, attend school, or attend self-help groups.

Our time for recreation on the yard became reduced to two hours per day so that only one building would be on the yard at a time. The CDCR reduced our access to dayrooms to two hours per day so that only one of four hallways would be in the dayroom at a time.

These changes reduced our ability to use telephones, and all visiting was cancelled. This caused our ability to contact family and friends to decrease greatly.

The CDCR took other measures to help in these areas. They worked with our telephone monopoly, GTL, to give us two days per month of free phone calls. They gave all of us without recent write ups a credit of 84 days off of our sentences.

Eventually, they allowed short video visits. Unfortunately, telephone access was reduced to half for social distancing, which made it very hard to sign up for a phone call.

Time dragged on as it usually does for prisoners except even more slowly. Reduced programming in prison and increased isolation is damaging to inmates unless they can find a way to protect their psychological and emotional systems.

To protect myself, I needed to stay busy being productive, so I started studying Hebrew and Spanish. I had in my possession a college textbook for learning how to read Hebrew, and later, I borrowed a Spanish book from the ‘Dummies’ series from a friend of mine.

I started with Hebrew and skimmed the book once and then started over methodically with a will and an overflow of time in my life to study. I studied for a few hours each day, sometimes as little as two and sometimes six or more.

After several months of study, I can read the Old Testament in Hebrew, and I know about 85 to 90 percent of all Old Testament Hebrew roots. Speaking the language would be a different story since I’ve never heard a conversation in Hebrew, but reading it has been a breakthrough to me.

I’ve been around Spanish speakers for much of my life, so I know a few words and phrases, but I started studying the Spanish for Dummies book, and I do recommend it. I recently started writing friends of mine in Mexico in Spanish! I’m starting to practice oral skills too.

Meanwhile, I noticed some things about how the pandemic has been handled in prison. First, many staff members refused to wear masks for months. Inmates didn’t want to in many cases, but we were ordered to long before the officers were ordered to.

Next, when people were exposed to the virus, they were all moved to another building. I noticed that as they gathered on their original yard to await escort to the quarantine building, officers took all their IDs and put them together in one plastic bag. This procedure had never been done before.

When they got to the quarantine building, their IDs were redistributed. I kept wondering why, since many of them did not have the virus, why would they put all their IDs in one bag? It was a foolish thing to do if you did not want the virus to spread.

Eventually, I tested positive for the virus. So I was not moved to the same building as ‘exposed’ people. I went to a building for only people who tested positive. What I learned was this: To get out of that quarantined building (with no program all locked down), a person needed to report no symptoms for two weeks.

I hate to say this, but many prisoners are not completely honest. What did they do? Of course they did not want to stay locked in a room for 24 hours a day, so regardless of how they felt, they reported twice each day that they had no fever, they were released from quarantine after two weeks to freely infect others.

This was done with the knowledge of the federal medical receiver assigned to oversee California’s prisons. For some reason, instead of requiring a negative test to get out of quarantine, the receiver OK’d the word of each prisoner to self report symptoms other than vitals taken by nurses.

So they dumped still-sick inmates back into the population. That’s how I got the virus. A person in ‘so-called’ remission was placed in my room. Was all that intentional? I don’t know. Was it negligent? Yes.

Beyond that, most people don’t know that one of the most stressful things you can do to an inmate is move him to another cell, room, building, yard or prison. He won’t feel safe while he’s being moved. He doesn’t know if danger awaits him in the next room he moves to. It’s very hard and stressful.

Overcrowding makes us vulnerable to disease. While the CDCR may report that Valley State Prison is at some lesser percentage, most buildings and rooms are at 175 to 200 percent of design capacity. How can they report a lower number?

Because they count rooms and buildings they should not. For example, the ‘hole’ on ad seg building represents 100 cells that are not normal housing. That shouldn’t count as open cells. Another entire building of 32 rooms with eight beds each is reserved for sick people.

These rooms should not be counted as capacity. My room, as most others, contains eight people but was designed for four! It’s a breeding ground for disease.

The problem is that the federal judges allows the CDCR to be at 137.5 percent of design capacity overall. That counts ad seg or punishment isolation, or administrative segregation, condemned areas, quarantine areas, etc.

During the time with the most cases here, inmates were housed in the gymnasium, chapels, and classrooms with porta-potties and cold portable showers! These were inmates with COVID-19!

To be ready for a pandemic, every prison throughout the state should be capped at 90 percent design capacity, and that capacity should never include ad seg, condemned areas or non-standard housing. Then the state would have the ability to move people around if needed and to create quarantine areas.

Until that happens, we cannot be kept safe regardless of how hard the wardens and staff work. They have been given an impossible situation to deal with. I’ve survived COVID-19, but others did not.

03/20
Working seven days
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Working seven days

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Valley State.

Hello. I am 43 years old, and I have been incarcerated since I was 19 years old. I am writing this story to share my experience of testing positive for COVID-19 in prison. In this story, I will share how CDCR mishandled the whole COVID-19, and how they infected the whole prison population by their negligence.

March 2020, they locked down all prisons in the state of California. I was at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California. It’s a level two prison and we live in eight man dorms. The prison went on modified program.

No self help groups, no visits, no education, no college, and no vacation. Two hours of dayroom and two hours of yard. One building goes to the yard, only, for two hours, then the next building. Only one hallway at a time for dayroom.

The officers and free-staff are coming to work everyday, and going home.

I’m working in the kitchen so I was considered a critical worker, essential worker. They had me working seven days a week. I felt like a slave.

The prison handled out no extra cleaning supplies, no bleach, and had no compassion for us as human beings. In a way, they started forcing us to test for COVID-19. At first it was optional, then it went to “If you don’t test, then you will be moved to quarantine.”

The full story

Go Back

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

PrisonPandemic project

March 19, 2021

Hello. I am 43 years old, and I have been incarcerated since I was 19 years old. I am writing this story to share my experience of testing positive for COVID-19 in prison. In this story, I will share how CDCR mishandled the whole COVID-19, and how they infected the whole prison population by their negligence.

March 2020, they locked down all prisons in the state of California. I was at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California. It’s a level two prison and we live in eight-man dorms. The prison went on modified program.

No self help groups, no visits, no education, no college, and no vacation. Two hours of dayroom and two hours of yard. One building goes to the yard, only, for two hours, then the next building. Only one hallway at a time for dayroom.

The officers and free-staff are coming to work everyday, and going home.

I’m working in the kitchen so I was considered a critical worker, essential worker. They had me working seven days a week. I felt like a slave.

The prison handled out no extra cleaning supplies, no bleach, and had no compassion for us as human beings. In a way, they started forcing us to test for COVID-19. At first it was optional, then it went to “If you don’t test, then you will be moved to quarantine.”

I did what I was required to do, to prevent contracting COVID-19. CDCR did not do what they were required to do. They stacked each pod with eight people. Not only did they do that, but they mixed inmates that had tested positive with inmates that were negative. They housed those inmates together in the same room.

The room I was in, they placed three inmates that had tested positive. These inmates were coughing and sneezing in the room. Before these inmates had showed up, I had tested about six times. Each time I tested negative.

December 2020, I tested positive for COVID-19. I had all the symptoms and to this day, I still can’t smell 100 percent. December 11, 2020, they moved me from the room I was in, to a quarantine building. In the quarantine building, I couldn’t call my family or friends.

I could not even tell them I caught COVID-19 and that I was okay. I couldn’t go to the canteen and I was cell-fed. It was a depressing time for me and it was Christmas time.

I strongly believe that because CDCR housed those three inmates in my pod, CDCR was the main reason I caught COVID-19. CDCR knew those men had tested positive for COVID-19. Why did they move those inmates with others that were negative?

Did CDCR deliberately put those inmates in my pod so that I would contract the virus? I believe CDCR gambled with my life. They had no idea how my body would react to the virus. I washed my hands, I wore a mask, I practiced social distancing.

The one thing I had absolutely no control over was those three inmates that were put in my room.

Another thing I want to share about this pandemic is the inmate telephone system. There are eight telephones in the dayroom. Out of nowhere, CDCR decides to limit the phone usage. Allowing us to use only four phones during our two hours of dayroom.

Each hallway has a total of 64 inmates. By only allowing us to use the four telephones, in that two hour time frame, it only allows 32 of the 64 inmates to call home. Adding stress to the already existing stress from the pandemic. Now we can’t stay in touch with our loved ones, our friends, and our support network.

CDCR pushed us further from our family and friends. Their reason was so they can spray the phones down with Cellblock 64 and let the chemicals sit for 15 minutes. Why, of all places, did they choose to implement this procedure on the telephones? Our only source and connection with home.

It made no sense, and showed a lack of empathy and compassion on CDCR’s behalf. No other place at the prison did they practice this procedure. The only place was our telephones.

Today is April 2021 and I still get tested every week. I got my first vaccination shot last month. I’m still waiting on my second shot. I owe all my health and positive mind-frame to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am still alive and standing because of him.

College was another way I coped with this pandemic. Also the book club I’m in helped me. Thank you for allowing me to share my experience and my opinions.

02/21
24-hour confinement
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24-hour confinement

HEAR THE FULL STORY

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Valley State.

I appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me regarding my experience during this ongoing pandemic.

Straight to the missive.

I was at San Quentin State Prison when out of nowhere you hear on the speaker, the correctional officer says institutional lockdown. We just got done with the institutional search state-wide months prior so heavily that obviously put everyone in a panic. A few hours later the porters of the building started to walk down the tiers passing out PSRs to inform us of what’s going on.

It turned out we were on medical quarantine due to the first positive cases of COVID-19. This medical quarantine consisted to 24-hour confinement to your cell, no visits, no phone calls, no canteen, and no showers. Finally, after this cruel and unusual punishment, CDCR gave us yard and a phone call every other day which they took away from us again due to the rapid increase of positive cases.

They started to treat us as though we did something wrong. They took away the little freedom we were entitled to as inmates. They had categories for everyone they had resolved. Which means you had COVID and got over it, they had a negative category which meant you keep coming up negative every time you test and they had unknown which meant you refused to test.

Depending on what category you were in determined whether or not you got showers or phone calls and when. Sometimes it took three to four days for us to even get a chance to come out of our cell.

Personally being on the inside looking out, I’ve learned a few things and that’s always be prepared, always let your loved ones know you love them and care, and most important, be firm in your religious beliefs.

Thank you for your time.

Stay safe and take care.

24-hour confinement

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