This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Tracy.
March 29, 2021
To: PrisonPandemic project
I would love to share with you a short story about how has it been since the pandemic. I would like to start off by saying I am a 26-year-old male and I have been in prison for about five and a half years. So pre-pandemic everything was normal as some people would like to say. I was just doing my time and I can remember it like yesterday.
I was in a dorm setting and we were getting ready to watch a basketball game on TV. I think it was the Mavericks versus some team, I can’t remember, and all of a sudden they cancel the game. So everybody like what the heck is going on? So everything that was live began to shut down.
Then they start saying this COVID-19 is deadly, we’re in a pandemic, and to stay in the house and away from each other. So I didn’t understand cause for the people in prison we were just watching and learning about this through the television.
There was no way that a person in prison could have felt the full effect of what the world was going through. It was almost one of the safest places you can be all the way up until the correction officers started to bring inside the prison walls this virus.
That’s when things got a little scary for some people cause if you’ve ever been inside a prison or know about it, there is no such thing as social distancing in prison. So if you can just envision how are we supposed to stay six feet away when in whole that’s the size of the cell. How do we stay safe? For 10 or 11 months until they came with a vaccine and give it to prisoners.
So to answer the first question what has it been like inside during this time? It’s been very rough. It’s been times where they kept us from using the phone and going outside all because they can’t keep their staff from bringing it in and spreading it to us. The way I feel about my safety is concerned ‘cause you just never know, ‘cause again there is no social distancing.
My life is in constant jeopardy. They can move someone in this cell with me who has it or had it and the next thing you know I’m sick. It’s constant worry for me and my family. And for the visiting.
I don’t get visits but I hear it’s stressful for a lot of people cause they just want to know if we are OK. I can’t really explain how I been coping with this, maybe when it all over I can reflect back and say.