This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Folsom.
Forgive me if I misspelled “Solon,” that’s what I made out from the signature. Obviously I, writing this letter in response to your inquiry letter about my COVID-19 experience as an incarcerated inmate. I’ll begin with a brief background of myself then describe my COVID experience.
You already know my name, what you don’t know is my maiden name, so to speak. Yeah I took my wife’s last name when we married! That’s another story for another time. We are high school sweethearts, have been together 24 years and married for 15 years.
We have three sons together. I got into meth stemming from a cocaine habit, pushed away from my family, and ended up shooting a man and left him in the planter box to die. I ended up with nine years at 85 percent to serve in prison. Just a brief description of who you are corresponding with to your letter.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I was skeptical about the severity of the problem. It wasn’t until March Madness and other million, if not billion, dollar events were being cancelled and the death tolls were calculated daily, that I took the virus seriously. My first thought went to my wife and our youngest son because they both have asthma and other respiratory issues.
The feeling of helplessness inside me was immediately amplified drastically. My next worry was my wife had a one person income, how is she going to survive! Guilt ran through me for not being there to help.
As a healthcare worker that soon drifted because she was putting in full time work hours, but being at work increased exposure to her sensitive lungs. It wasn’t until she received both vaccine shots that I took a breath.
All three of our children were now virtual learning and we’re at home now. By the grace of God my oldest is 15, the youngest is 10, and my wife worked two blocks from the house. In order to cope with my stress I would listen to lean heaviest on my faith in Jesus Christ. I have a biological mother, my foster mom, and an older brother to use as a sound board.
I would use coloring as a form of therapy. Enclosed is one of these pictures. Having constant communication with my wife, children, and family was crucial. Reduced/cancelled visiting has basically no effect on me personally because I didn’t get them.
However, looking and listening around you could feel the morale was down. With less incentive to do well and the stress levels up, so were the violent incidents.
I felt safe from the violence because I did my best to not put myself in bad situations. As far as COVID, initially I felt safe then I followed the San Quentin fatality rate on the news and began to worry, once again overcome by helplessness. I found solace in knowing there were no cases here at Folsom.
Then once the free staff here tested positive I knew it was a short matter of time before we were all exposed. There is no practical way to social distance in prisons. There are just too many people in too small of a facility. We were taken down and tested regularly.
Those who tested positive were segregated from those who are not. They brought in a COVID strike force to help.
When I contacted COVID I was sent to the woman’s side with multiple others. It didn’t do much more to me than the flu. I lost my smell and taste, I slept a lot, and experienced reduced breathing capacity. In two weeks I was brought back, have since been vaccinated and I’m doing well.
I’m taking a business, psychology, and US history class through community college, attend a substance abuse class in the afternoon, then cut hair as a barber at night. I have about one and a half years left on my sentence and then I’ll begin the next chapter of my life. I hope this helps and thank you for taking the time to read my story.