This story was told by a person incarcerated at John Latorraca Correctional Center.
Caller: I don’t even leave the facility to go to court.
UCI: Yeah. And so, this must have been a big change from before the pandemic started, I’m guessing?
Caller: Before the pandemic started, we had visits behind the glass. Like, we were quarantined anyways, already, before this. There’s no contact at all, whatsoever. We had to pick up a phone, like I am talking to you right now, dial a number.
And then our family was on a different – a big piece of glass on the other side and they had to pick up the phone and answer it like we’re doing right now. And all the calls were recorded. And I mean, I mean, that’s fair enough with me.
I mean, I got to see them and I got to talk to them. And then they want to give us a five-minute phone call once a week, which, I mean, I’m sorry, but when somebody’s going through it, five minutes ain’t enough time.
Caller: That’s barely enough to say, “How are you doing?” Answer real quick. And then, sometimes some people need to get deep into a conversation, just to get a little bit of ease. And it’s not enough.
When our neighboring counties are giving us Zoom, video chat, and all that. Little tablets. They’re giving alternative methods to contact your family over there.
Caller: But for some odd reason, this county ain’t doing it.
UCI: Yeah. And what has it been like for you with reduced visitation and all?
Caller: Excuse me?
UCI: What has it been like for you with reduced visitation and programming?
Caller: I would like to see my wife and have a little supportive over – I can’t even see her when I go to court. I have to be honest, I’m in front of a little tablet and that’s it.
Caller: I see the judge and my lawyer and that’s it. And then my lawyer won’t even come down here and see me.
Caller: He wants me to call him over the phone.
UCI: Yeah. And how have you been coping with the crisis?
Caller: It’s – I mean, I’ve been trying to figure this out. Because, they want me to do five years here in county, and they expect me to be here for five years without seeing my family? That’s pretty tough right there.
I mean, I mean, what did my family do? Because that’s who they’re making suffer the most. They’re not just making me suffer, they’re making my family suffer. Because we’re not – my family is doing time with me.
And then that little bit of, I mean, I say, I know at the end, it’s my fault that I’m here. Well, not really it’s my fault because I’m still an open case. And I really don’t think I’m really here for my fault, but anyway, that’s a whole different matter.
But I mean, I’m not – I’m charged with something. I haven’t been convicted of nothing. I’m not on probation, I’m not on parole, nothing.
Caller: They just picked me up some charges and they accused me of something because of my past.
Caller: So, that’s why I’m here. And I don’t understand why I’m getting so, like, treated like I murdered somebody or something like that.
Caller: When I’m not – I’m like I’m not even a violent offender or nothing like that. I have no violence in my background or my history. Why are they keeping me away from my family when the same COs that watch us go to the same gas stations that my family does?
Eat at the same restaurants? And our kids go to the same schools and they use the same freeways.
Caller: Why can’t they come over and see us real quick?
Caller: Like I don’t understand.
Caller: And there’s a lot of us in here, like, feel the same way I do, but most people, they’re too intimidated by the cops. Because it’s not so much things are pushing up on us, but they think that they’re going to get more in trouble for voicing their opinions.
Caller: So, that’s why I’m calling.
Caller: Maybe when they’ll hear us, and maybe when somebody that can do something, cause I write you a letter and you said that you can’t. Right? You know? Step up and be like, “Hey, let’s go check out Merced County real quick.”