This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Valley State.
Beyond that, most people don’t know that one of the most stressful things you can do to an inmate is move him to another cell, room, building, yard or prison. He won’t feel safe while he’s being moved. He doesn’t know if danger awaits him in the next room he moves to. It’s very hard and stressful.
Overcrowding makes us vulnerable to disease. While the CDCR may report that Valley State Prison is at some lesser percentage, most buildings and rooms are at 175 to 200 percent of design capacity. How can they report a lower number?
Because they count rooms and buildings they should not. For example, the ‘hole’ on ad seg building represents 100 cells that are not normal housing. That shouldn’t count as open cells. Another entire building of 32 rooms with eight beds each is reserved for sick people.
These rooms should not be counted as capacity. My room, as most others, contains eight people but was designed for four! It’s a breeding ground for disease.
The problem is that the federal judges allows the CDCR to be at 137.5 percent of design capacity overall. That counts ad seg or punishment isolation, or administrative segregation, condemned areas, quarantine areas, etc.
During the time with the most cases here, inmates were housed in the gymnasium, chapels, and classrooms with porta-potties and cold portable showers! These were inmates with COVID-19!
To be ready for a pandemic, every prison throughout the state should be capped at 90 percent design capacity, and that capacity should never include ad seg, condemned areas or non-standard housing. Then the state would have the ability to move people around if needed and to create quarantine areas.
Until that happens, we cannot be kept safe regardless of how hard the wardens and staff work. They have been given an impossible situation to deal with. I’ve survived COVID-19, but others did not.