This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Soledad.
December 24, 2020
As I sit within this prison cell a recurring thought often visits my mind. How did a virus from China make its way into my personal space?
I remember when I first saw it on the news. All it was, was a flu-like virus spreading in a place named Wuhan. Of course, I didn’t pay no attention to it. Why would I?
After all, I’m in a prison cell in a little city known as Soledad, California. At the time, Wuhan seemed so very far away. With all the miles, borders, countries, and continents between us, the possibilities of this particular virus reaching me seemed a flat out zero.
Even when I heard a news report about similar deaths taking place in Washington State it still didn’t alert me that much. Especially when President Trump was downplaying it on a consistent basis. Plus during my incarceration I began attending church, AA, various self help groups. I was even attending on-site Hartnell College classes.
Along with these educational and spiritual programs I held a job in a PIA textiles. And enjoyed playing sports such as basketball, soccer, handball, and softball. Yes, I had a busy schedule all keeping me programming in a positive manner. With this constant flow of productive energy COVID-19 really didn’t register with me.
How could it? I was attuned with getting my mind right. That meant getting rid of toxic masculinity, overcoming years of addiction, plus other bad habits.
Over the last eight years while incarcerated I have spent many hours of dealing with my issues. With all the time spent in these various groups I have developed bonds and friendships. All that has completely stopped. Why?
COVID-19 has finally made its way onto our prison grounds.
We are no longer able to have groups. Which means we are not gathering together in a structured setting that allows us to be open with one another. It really is amazing that within prison walls we have found a space to be real and genuine about our bad messed up behaviors. During this pandemic I have begun to feel isolated.
I believe the prison I’m in has been affected since March. That’s 10 months of being stuck inside a cell. In the beginning, I was fortunate enough to go to work. Being that I’m assigned to textiles I was part of a working force that made hundreds of thousands of cloth masks.
At that time I felt extremely purposeful. Especially knowing that our masks were being distributed throughout California.
I recently heard that some men have passed away from COVID-19 here at this prison. I know a few of them personally. As a matter of fact, I have even prayed with some of them. The sad reality is that more are going to pass away here. Today the prison I’m in has the most infections within the California state.
Yes, we are often tested. Once a week, in fact. And it’s scary to find out men within your own building are positive. It leaves you to wonder: Am I next?