This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Ironwood.
December 29, 2020
Dear PrisonPandemic Project,
I hope this bit of writing helps with what you’re doing. It’s nice to feel acknowledged as a living person and, well, thank you for including me in your project. If you need any more writing on any other topics, let me know.
I have been in prison now for 15 years and have a life sentence.
This COVID-19 pandemic has definitely affected prison. We have been limited to our recreational activities which help us keep our stress down. Access to rehabilitative programs and education has been limited to in cell only courses provided by organizations outside of prison for which many of us are grateful for.
Our food portions have become food rations. For example, for lunch we get 6 salted crackers, 1 pasteurized processed cheese, and a small bag of extremely salted sunflower seeds. We are given little access to purchase food from the prison canteen and most of us honestly are left hungry most days now, not just because of COVID but because prior to COVID this prison had cut down our food portions, added now with COVID it’s only been made worse.
Prison staff does their best to make us aware of COVID but a lot of guys here just don’t listen and continue to avoid warnings about social gathering in common areas within the prison. The only thing that scares me is that if I catch COVID, I know I will not receive any medical help because the prison health care system does not care about prisoner’s health. The “doctors” do not like giving us meds to battle the common cold, so why even consider help for COVID from them. Prison “doctors” are quick to give us antidepressants for any reason or opportunity, but we all still feel that COVID will not be defeated by antidepressants.
I wish we could be allowed to buy meds or be given meds to help with even the common cold but that will never happen as we prisoners are considered nonentities.
My life sentence has erased me from the lives of everyone I remember, so my visitation has not been a problem. I’ve noticed that CDCR has made an attempt to have video visits and that is working for lots of guys that get visits on a regular basis. The big problem is phone calls on a regular basis, it seems every day staff is being called for training and we are denied calls for lack of staff.
I have been coping with things okay and, well, that’s only because I’m a life prisoner that has now gotten used to the infinite loop of life that is now my life in prison. I wake up with only one purpose and that’s trying to remain at peace while waiting for my end on this earth. Life in prison during COVID has only affected those inmates that have not been through real isolation confinement, which I have been through for most of my 15 years in prison.
As for prison staff, I believe they are doing the best they can to prevent the spread of COVID but this is all new for everyone and it’s all a learning process.