This story was told by a person incarcerated at Ventura County Main Jail.
UCI: And what has the COVID situation been like at your facility?
Caller: It’s been like — I don’t know, it’s been like a big ass procedure like, they used – they used to come in the jail and there would be a suicide watch. But, now, there’s like a suicide watch plus like a quarantine isolation type thing. And then, you get housed into like a regular like, kind of like GP, you know?
UCI: Okay. You said there was a suicide watch before COVID happened?
Caller: No, if it’s like — everyone that comes into jail like they have to go through four to five days of suicide watch. That’s just everybody. And then, there’s this like isolation thing now, after like the suicide watch. It’s always been like the suicide watch. Like it’s always been like — any time you come in jail, that’s how they do it here.
Caller: You got the suicide watch. Everybody does it. It’s just like protocol, like you know? It’s been there like that for years. Like it’s just the way that — yeah.
Caller: And then, they started doing this isolation thing, which is like 14 days of lockdown and then — and then, you get to go to like a regular section floor. Like people are like —there’s no more lockdown, you know? Like, it’s because of COVID, the isolation [unitelligible].
UCI: Okay. That makes sense.
Caller: Yeah. And then — and then so I went through all that already and then, like, I don’t know. It’s so — I was in like a — like a regular dorm and then, like, I already went through all that. And then, they ended up testing everyone or something for COVID and I guess they — I don’t know. I guess my test results were like, I don’t know.
I’m still waiting to find out but they ended up moving me from the main — from like the main, what is it, section and they put me in this little like dorm right now. And I’m in here for — they saying that I might have COVID, I don’t know. And they’re saying that for 14 to 21 days again, I’m on lockdown in this little like medical kind of dorm.
UCI: Oh, that’s definitely scary. How do you feel about all of this?
Caller: I don’t know. I think it’s crazy. I don’t know because I don’t know, I hope I don’t have — like I asked them today. Like, why did they move me out of my section, you know?
And they’re like because they just did the test. So, they were like buccal swabs and I’m guessing it’s because of that. But then when I asked them, they were like, “Oh we haven’t got your results back.”
But why would they move me over here like, you know? Unless I was dirty, you know? Like my results were dirty, you know? But, so now I’m over here in this little dorm room. Everybody — there’s like one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine — there’s only ten cells and I guess everyone in here is — supposedly has COVID, I don’t know.
But, it’s like — it’s really nasty in here, I don’t know. It’s like dirty and stuff and they only let us like, I don’t know. We’re only allowed to come out every other day to shower. It’s just disgusting in here, I don’t know. This shit sucks, yeah.
UCI: I’m so sorry to hear that. Previous to the situation you’re in right now, did the facility offer any vaccination for anybody?
Caller: Oh, yeah. They did, actually. So they — so like out of nowhere, they told me like, “Do you want a vaccination?” And I told them, “Yeah.” And they gave me the one Moderna shot. It’s like the — there’s two of them, I guess.
And they only gave me one. But, yeah. So I was supposed to get the other one, but I never got it. And now they have me slammed down in this little COVID like section and there’s only like a little — there’s barely people here, I don’t know. Like, yeah. This shit sucks.
UCI: Okay. How has this whole COVID situation affected your loved ones?
Caller: I don’t know if it’s like, I don’t really get visits here or anything. But I don’t really get visits but like I don’t know. I know that my mom, she kind of tripped out when I called her and told her. I was like, “I don’t know. I might have COVID. That might be why I’m in here in this little slammed down little tank, you know?”
And then she was like, I don’t know if she was just kind of sad or something. She’s like, “Oh, I hope not. I hope you’re okay.” She’s like, “Oh, that sucks”. But, I don’t know. Yeah, so, it kind of — somewhat affects them a little bit, I don’t know. But I don’t really get visits or anything so, yeah.
UCI: Okay. what about — what has it been like for you to have reduced programming?
Caller: Oh, it sucks. It sucks major, yeah. And then I’m just tripping out because like, we get a shower every other day. Like some days, we gotta come out for a shower and that’s it. And then they have the tablets like over here.
Like basically, the people that used to get in trouble for fighting — like the people that would fight — they have this place called the “hole.” And then that’s where they sent — they sent the people with the COVID. They put them in the place where the hole used to be — where the troublemakers used to go.
And so, they have us slammed down right here in the hole. But, which is kind of dumb. I don’t know why we’re — why we’re not in medical, you know? Like down in the medical tank. Yeah.
UCI: Oh, that’s actually something we hear commonly in these calls — that the places where it used to be for like punishment, it’s now for people to be quarantined.
Caller: So yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly where we’re at right now. It sucks. And then like, I’m tryna get them to let me come out so I can clean my cell because it’s fucking nasty — it’s so, sorry, excuse my language — it’s so nasty in here. Like, there’s so many — like, I don’t know.
It looks like someone had a food fight in here, but they won’t even give me no cleaner or nothing, I don’t know. But, I was trying like, get it all cleaned up. I’ve been in here for like three days and yeah, it sucks. Yup.
I’m waiting to find out. They said that they don’t have my results back yet. But, I’m pretty sure they do because why would they move us from like, you know? From like, the section. Why would they move us only if your results came back negative, you know? I mean positive.
UCI: Yeah, I understand. Hopefully, it is negative but yeah. I see where you’re coming from.
UCI: What do you feel like the facility could have done to make your situation better?
Caller: I don’t know. Be more heavily like — make sure that everyone’s vaccinated and stuff. And like, I don’t know. I just — I think it’s kind of dumb how they like, move me and then they don’t even know for sure if I’m positive or not.
Like how I’m more likely to get it because I’m slammed down in a tank with all these other people that most likely have it. You know? Yeah, but I feel like they could’ve — I don’t know. Just — it just happens, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t know what they could’ve done. Yeah.
UCI: Yeah, definitely. I agree with you on that one. If they weren’t too sure yet I don’t know if they should’ve put you with everyone who still has it. I mean who does have it. Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience?
Caller: I don’t know. Like, probably sounds like I’m complaining now, because I kind of am. But, I don’t know. It just sucks. Fucking that is — I don’t know.
The [unintelligible] like the ice hole — the ice hole is in where the hole used to be in, you know? I don’t know. Like, I don’t know. But I don’t know, that’s it.
I was just kind of — I just wanted to see what’s up with you guys. I don’t know I’ve seen your guys’ paper and [unintelligible] give a call, I’m all bored and I have my tablet in my cell. I’m not even supposed to have my tablet but I snuck it in. They don’t know about it.
UCI: Oh my goodness.
Caller: Yeah. Yeah, I’m not supposed to have it [unintelligible]. Yeah, hide it so I don’t know. They only walk like every hour or something. Yeah, but there’s only one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine — there’s only like 12.
And then like — there’s like this little phone. There’s a little payphone that comes to our cell, you know? Like there’s like —it’s like a payphone on wheels. And then, there’s like a lot of them in front of our cell. Then, they open on this little slot and you make phone calls from the slot in our dorm. Yeah.
UCI: Okay, so it’s like a little mobile phone. That’s cool.
Caller: Yeah. But, yeah. We’re pretty much slammed down here now. And then they said, what is it, [unintelligible]. Yeah.
UCI: Okay. Well, that’s all the questions I have for you tonight. If there’s any like short stories you want to share or any experiences you wanted to add?
Caller: Can you — can you repeat that last part? Sorry, there was — the cop was walking right now. I had to hide from him.
UCI: Oh, no worries. I was just asking or I was saying that’s all the questions I have for you tonight. I don’t know if you wanted to add any short stories or any other experiences you’ve had with COVID being incarcerated.
Caller: No, that’s it.
UCI: Yeah, okay. Alrighty then. That’s–that’s all that we have for you today. Thank you so much for calling and using your tablet for that.
Caller: Yeah. Kind of worked out, huh? Yeah, all right. Hey, you guys are in college — are you guys in college at — what is it — in, where is it again?
UCI: We’re in Irvine. The University of California, Irvine.
Caller: Oh, that’s cool. Yeah. Yeah, I’m looking at a lot of time. I’m probably not gonna [unintelligible] they’re trying to give me [redacted], you know, yup. But, alright. Well, thank you.
UCI: Thank you so much for calling. Have a good day and if any of the people who you’re in quarantine with are interested in calling, please share our information with them so they can also call us. Thank you so much.
Caller: Alright, will do that. Yeah. You have a good night.
UCI: Okay, thank you. You too. Bye-bye.