This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Centinela.
I am more than honored to give a voice and share my personal experience as a current incarcerated inmate in hopes not only bring positive reform but a change to the core of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation to manifest.
As someone with a very distinguished voice and strong personality, it has been a blessing and a curse at various times. I say this, cause once the prison went on lockdown and voluntary COVID tests became mandatory and quarantine was being prolonged approximately 40 days. I knew in my spirit that the powers that be were now taking all advantages during this pandemic as an opportunity.
I’ve filed multiple grievances stating their preventive measures aren’t adequate to stop the spread. Even medical personnel agreed yet nobody wanted to bring their concerns to the right authorities. I became a target to silence and witnessed systematic manipulation rehearsed and transpire before me by attacking my rehabilitation with rule violation reports to deem me a program failure.
I witnessed the guards influence medical personnel to implement absurd orders to justify their cause using medical as a crutch. I’ve been moved around several times and even put in medical isolation without any medical diagnosis, exposure, or positive COVID test results. I thank God, I haven’t tested positive due to speaking up.
I take my life serious and health to me is very important. Positive inmates are being housed with negative inmates. I’ve been put in cells that wasn’t thoroughly cleansed prior to me moving in.
We wore P.I.A.-made cloth mask for approximately nine months. Guards and free staff wasn’t required to wear mask until eight months of being in the pandemic. We are currently under mandatory issue of N-95 mask, while some of the guard in our housing units constantly aren’t wearing mask and wearing surgical mask.
It’s traumatic to hear a guard say, “Everybody will eventually have it in jail.” I’m paranoid to a degree daily, not knowing if the person I live with antibodies have worn off and if he can possibly pass it on to others and even me. Out of 173 inmates in my unit, only 20 inmates was negative including me.
I don’t like that certain staff act like the inmates are a threat to their health and safety when they are the ones constantly in contact with the outside public, giving access to come and go within the facility.
We started getting video visits, but that didn’t last long. Any time they get a new positive test result, we’re back on quarantine lockdown. We have no access to self-help groups, religious services, certain jobs, and outside yard activities such as basketball, cards, handball.
We only go out once a week for an hour. No dayroom and they have restrictions on phone use. Fifteen minutes once a week, while 10-minute disinfected waiting period in between calls.
What’s sad is, prisons in other states have reported they’ve given inmates canteen free without charge. Free phone calls, extra quarterly packages, and outside food sales. We was getting free phone calls three, four times a week but it turned into only twice a month.
If the free phone call falls on the weekend A2-B classified inmates aren’t allowed to use the phone. People who refuse to COVID test aren’t allowed the privilege of two packages.
Out of state prisoners are also getting time off their sentences. California is the pharaoh type in the bible who didn’t want to let the Hebrews go. I’ve heard the rumors of that inmates was to be released due to the pandemic but that has yet to be witnessed. But maybe in those prisons that have had multiple deaths due to Covid cases like San Quentin, Chino, and Lancaster.
I haven’t had a visit and I’ve lost my grandmother and cousin within a week apart, without a courtesy emergency call to make to this day. My family don’t have funds for the phone so I rely on letters, which are constantly taking long periods of time for multiple reasons.
I sense no sympathy or compassion cause most guards have trained their eyes to only see the flaws in us instead of the best. Good behavior isn’t rewarded but earned. I’m constantly wondering will I make it home alive to my family safe, with a few years to do.
I have to deal with politics and being involved with other people’s drama that I have to constantly dodge. On top of all that I have to deal with the authorities who don’t mind making my time and days miserable because they don’t like me. Trouble really do follow people and I know to those who never experienced first hand, may wonder how!?
God got my best interest in mind and I trust Him to help me get through these dark valleys as I learn to keep depending on Him and not my own efforts, understanding, and strength. I pray that many will arise and awake to the realization that God is ruler in the kingdom of men and He is on the throne. I pray many will be at peace during these times with faith and love too.