This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Ironwood.
Dear UCI student,
I hope this missive finds all of you at PrisonPandemic project safe and healthy.
I received your message, and I am excited to share my experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to this project.
Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, my program consisted of work, self-help programs, college, and recreation time. Then, COVID happened and life as I knew it got disrupted. Most prison programming got shut down.
For someone, like myself, who was very active in positive programing, was very discouraging to have my routine thwarted. Not to mention, disheartening to have the visits cancel. For me, it was not only difficult not to see my parents but scary. My parents are elderly and I worry for them. As well as my family and friends at home. Moreover, I worried for my own safety. The COVID is an unseen enemy, and it’s frightening to not know when or from where it will strike.
At first, prison officials here at Ironwood were not providing N95 masks or enough cleaning supplies to disinfect the cells and dayroom. Since then, things have improved. All inmates and correctional officers alike are using N95 masks and are taking the necessary precautions to prevent COVID infections. On this Facility D, there hasn’t been many infections, which is reassuring that everyone is doing their part to keep each other safe and healthy.
Even though, these are difficult and uncertain times I practice daily prayer and meditation, which helps me to deal with my feelings. I focus in the present and on what is important in the moment. This allows me to remain positive and to stay productive.
Furthermore, I continue with my rehabilitating efforts. I occupy my time with in-cell studies, writing letters to loved ones and friends, exercise, listen to uplifting music and conversing with my cellmate. We do get recreation time, so it’s nice to jog around the track and get a lung full of fresh air. It definitely helps to release stress.
This is my program, which has been helpful to dealing with the current crisis. I pray things get better now that people are getting vaccinated, and that soon, prisoners get vaccinated too.
I hope my story helps in your efforts for positive reforms. Please take care of yourselves. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.