This story was told by a person incarcerated at an ICE/Private-Contractor facility.
UCI: And what has the COVID situation been like at your facility?
Caller: The COVID situation?
Caller: We had an outbreak a couple of months ago. We were on like a sack lunch. They had– cause it started in the kitchen. Everyone got sick. They had the kitchen shut down for like a month.
UCI: Oh, wow. And you said a sack lunch? Is that like they have prepared lunches for you guys?
Caller: Well, yeah because– they still have a quarantine right now going on. So anyone who comes in, they go to quarantine first for two weeks. And they get cleared and then they put them into general population.
And so right now, this jail only has like 100 people in it.
Caller: It has a capacity of like three or four hundred but it only has like 100 people in it right now.
UCI: Oh, I see. Are they removing people or they’re just not bringing any– well you said that they’re in quarantine, are they in another facility doing quarantine?
Caller: Well the quarantine it’s– it’s single two man cells. And so like when they first get arrested and processed and they go into quarantine. And then there’s a 40 person capacity in all three of them. And well I think that they’re down to two of them.
But it’s what called “e-pod” and “f-pod” are quarantine. And then “p-pod” they have for the active White gang members and the Northerners.
UCI: Oh, I see. Okay, another question I have is how has the vaccination situation been like at your facility?
Caller: They haven’t been evacuating anyone really. I have a– after I got the vaccine, they gave me a test and they said that I tested positive for it.
UCI: Oh, you tested positive after you were vaccinated?
UCI: Oh my goodness. Are you currently COVID positive?
Caller: I haven’t had a test in a while but I have paperwork that says I had tested positive at one time.
UCI: How was that like for you being incarcerated and going through COVID?
Caller: It was really stressful.
UCI: Did they provide you with any medications or anything to help you fight it?
Caller: Not really. I mean I told them I was sick and then- well because, they were paying people literally– putting 50 dollars on their books to get the vaccine.
UCI: Oh, they were getting like a-.
Caller: Like right now if you’re unvaccinated, they’ll put 50 dollars on your books if you get the vaccine.
UCI: Oh, I see. Do you feel like when they’re gonna– when they’re advertising the vaccination, do you feel like they give you guys enough information to make the decision?
Caller: Not really. I mean– I came in here broke and I have one of the vaccine cards on my property now. But I didn’t know that I was gonna get sick for like a week. I mean I was getting really bad cold chills and I guess it’s like kinda like a flu shot, you know?
Like how when your body builds up immunities. Cause you gotta get sick to be able to build up the immunities to it, I guess.
UCI: Yeah, definitely. Okay, the following question I have for you is how– or what has been like for you to have reduced visitation and programming?
Caller: It really sucks. I mean we only get one visit a week as opposed to two. And I mean they have us on a regular yard schedule but it’s just modified and we have a lot less employees at the facility here to help us out.
UCI: Yeah that must be rough. Do they have any other forms of visitation for you guys to use besides in-person?
Caller: No, we get one visit a week and it’s just through a window. I mean– if you’re a church or something, like you come and volunteer, they do a church thing. But like you gotta- I gotta put in a request for it.
And then you have to have so many people- we have to have so many people in the pod that want the service. But other than that, not really. They don’t really have very much visit stuff for us.
And the prices of phone calls just went up to– or, I mean, went down– it was like 30 cents a minute, now it’s only like seven cents a minute.
UCI: Oh, that’s good. I’ve heard that going around in a couple of different facilities. I’m glad they’re at least trying to help out in some way. How has the COVID situation been like for your loved ones?
Caller: Say it one more time?
UCI: How has the COVID situation at your facility affected your loved ones?
Caller: Affected my leveling?
UCI: Oh, your loved ones? Like your family or anybody who visits you or has been affected–
Caller: Oh, my loved ones. I haven’t really been able to talk to my family too much. I call my brother usually once a week with my free phone call. But other than that, it seems to, I mean, it puts a lot a pressure on people.
This town it’s driven the prices of everything up a lot. My brother was telling me about how the price of bacon it like doubled. And everything’s just a little bit more expensive.
UCI: Yeah definitely. What have you been doing to cope with the crisis?
Caller: Well I’m in jail so I mean, I don’t really have any bills to worry about and I don’t really have an income. And so, yeah, it’s actually almost a little bit better for me in a way because I’ve put on 40 pounds since I’ve been incarcerated.
UCI: That’s an interesting viewpoint. That’s actually one of my first calls where I hear somebody saying it was a little bit better for you. I’m glad to hear you’re looking at the bright side of everything.
Caller: Well yeah, I’m homeless on the streets when I’m on the outs. I was recently laid off a couple of years ago and I started– I had a drug problem. I’ve been incarcerated for about five months now.
UCI: Oh, I understand.
Caller: Yeah. It’s an eye-opener for me, you know? It’s tough all over, it really is.
UCI: Definitely. Hopefully when you’re released they can give you the appropriate resources so that you can get back on your feet once you’re out.
Caller: Yeah, I’m hoping so too.
UCI: I have another quick– a couple of questions for you. What would have made the situation better at your facility?
Caller: What would have made the situation better at the facility?
Caller: I don’t know. Maybe a little bit of extra time– cause we only get like cable after two o’clock. And other than that, like early in the morning we don’t get to watch TV, I mean we don’t get music. The prices on using the tablets are hella expensive.
I mean, I guess just a little bit more– more activity, or recreational things for us to do to keep our minds busy would’ve made it a lot better.
UCI: Yeah definitely. The final question I have for you is– is there anything else you want people to know about your experience?
Caller: Not really. I was just sitting here reading your letter and figured I call and give you a story to the best of my advantage– best of my abilities.
UCI: Well thank you so much for calling. Thank you so much for sharing all of that information as well. If you do have any questions for us or anything else you’d like to share or add–
Caller: Well, if you’re posting the story online, what I was saying before you started the questions, I could use like a little bit of publicity on an upcoming trial that I have. Because my public defender is calling the fire chief here a fucking liar. Pardon my French.
But, see because the firemen sitting at the fire station, they don’t make any money just sitting there on their asses. And so, I’m a [redacted] and I’m trynna prevent fires. So that’s taking money from them.
UCI: Oh, I hear ya. I wouldn’t be able to take any of the information about your case on the recording, but I think what you just said would most likely be posted along with your story. I’m not too sure.
Just cause we try to keep your identity as anonymous as possible, and I feel like that might be some identifying information.
Caller: Well I have no problem if you go public with my name. My name is [redacted].
UCI: Oh well I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to share your name but unfortunately we’re not able to post anybody’s names or –
UCI: Yeah, we’re not able to put any of your identifying information on there.
UCI: Yeah, but thank you again so much for calling. And please if you have any friends or any family members– cause I know you mentioned you talk to your brother. If they’d like to share their perspective of what it’s like to have a loved one incarcerated during COVID.
Or to be incarcerated during COVID– we would love to take anybody’s story, anybody who’d like to call.
UCI: Thank you so much for calling again.
Caller: Alright. Have a good night.
UCI: Thank you, you too. Bye-bye.
Caller: Alright, bye.