Coming to terms

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at CMC (California Men’s Colony).

Our lives in here (when we’re allowed what one would refer to as recreation activity) between 40 and 50 minutes of yard every day, 15 of which (if one can gain access) will be spent on the telephone. Otherwise, we’re allowed to walk around the yard – staying six feet apart, mind you, which on its face doesn’t comport with common sense, because science says none of us have it, and the only way we’ll get it is in close contact with staff.

Being that I’m currently on lockdown, the only out-of-cell time I am allowed is a 15-minute shower every 72 hours. That’s it.

Now, as ex-gang members from Los Angeles, and realizing the harms I inflicted upon not only my victims, but society as a whole, do I have a right to complain? No. And to be frank, I’m not. I get pissed at times, but at the end of the day, I put myself here.

While COVID-19 and its surrounding hassles may not be liked, people in society are currently facing far worse. I’ve come to understand what pain is and suffering is. Because I was asymptomatic, I’ve suffered no great loss. I still get fed three meals (even though I have my own food), I have a warm bed and a television. Not to mention a typewriter.

Corona has been a horrible disaster reeked upon the lives of those most vulnerable and this is the part that really bothers me. The number of businesses lost, the deaths, and the people shuttled to and from hospitals like cattle. These are the things that trouble me. Men, women, and children that no longer have the reliance of a steady (if not wobbly) pay check that was once there, now (like so many others that are less fortunate) have to wait for food banks and the like (if they have access at one) or risk going without, period. These are the things that bother me now.

Where once I was so selfish and all too consumed with me, I now look at the world and as Black man I am deeply ashamed at what I not only contributed to (regarding gangs and the like) but likewise the potential wasted. Lives are being lost on a daily, while others are constantly being affected, and it is with this backdrop that I cannot honestly complain.

COVID-19 has been a terrible, almost haunting, disease, and given the fact that a majority of the corrections officers – I can’t say for sure if it’s officials too, officials being the administrators, but a lot of the officers say they simply will not take the vaccine. Me too, don’t get me wrong, but still.

Given this mentality, the disease will in fact persist for at least another year or more. But here’s the kicker: With staff, many of whom refuse to wear a mask out in society, which is like, ‘Okay, that’s your choice.’ But, because they don’t wear a mask, and if they test positive, then they have to get furloughed – for which they don’t get paid. So, it’s directly affecting their paycheck.

Yet, so many believe what they want to believe. Thank you President Trump and Fox News. One would be remiss to throw a rock in here and not hit a correctional officer that (all, if not most, related to law enforcement are Republican by nature), believes that the virus is in fact a hoax. Really.

The deaths, flooding of hospitals, none of these register on the scale of reality. Don’t misunderstand, around administrators they are told to wear masks, but how often do administrators come around, for one, and two, at best it’ll only affect inmates. At least we believe that’s the rationale.