This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Valley State.
COVID-19’s hidden victims,
I am serving a life term in the California Correctional System and have 21 years in. I am now 43 years old. Yep I came to prison at the age of 22. Just a lost kid on a lost path. I’ve seen such evils over the years and even more heartbreaking isolation.
I once went 10 years between visits with my mother. How I missed the comfort of my mother’s hug even as a grown man. My mom has health issues that limit the ability to travel. So I programmed and stayed out of trouble so I could transfer to Valley State Prison.
Putting me closer to her and allowing for us to have visits.
Unfortunately, her health condition has worsened over the last two years so visits have slowed down. I had a visit appointment for mid-March 2020. COVID-19 had already been chipping away at our programs in here like: work assignments, education, self-help programs, access to dayroom, and yard activities. One-by-one these programs were shut down.
Then the unthinkable happened. Visitation was suspended until further notice days before I was to have my visit. Nearly a year later there aren’t contact visits. As of about two months ago they started to offer 30-minute video visits.
This is only helpful to those who have access to or know how when it comes to technology. My mother is 77 and she doesn’t know how to use a smart phone. The inability to have that physical contact with a loved one is a strain. The strain is placed on all relationships especially with your wife or girlfriend.
I, along with other inmates, have lost these relationships due to the extra strain of lack of visits, access to phone calls, and how slow mail is processed. This is what COVID has done. Made our isolation even more extreme here in prison. This is just the isolation aspect of this pandemic.