This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Kern Valley.
May 11, 2021
Hailsa and merry greetings to you. I am writing to you in regards to your short letter asking for stories, of how this COVID-19 pandemic has affected me and those around me here in prison. I look forward to sharing stories that may or may not help in the future.
You have listed a few topics you would like to discuss, but there are others that I feel would paint a far better picture like corruption, contraband i.e.: cellphones and drugs and other topics. If these are the stories you want to hear about, you’ll have to let me know, just know that these topics are a major factor especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone is affected financially.
A little about myself, I grew up in Orange County, California, a small city. I grew up in the foster care system as well as the juvenile hall system Orangewood, OC Juvenile Hall, Youth Guidance Center or YGC, Joplin, Los Pinos, etc. I’ve been in and out of prison since 2001 for a violation of probation. I’ve been locked up on this Sacramento case since 2007.
Prison and the prison system has always been bad but nothing compared to this past year. I can say this past year has been the hardest time I’ve ever done and I’ve done a lot of time in a lot of place including Corcoran and Pelican Bay. I personally lost someone to the COVID-19 virus in fact I lost the only person I had in my corner who believed in me and that I could change.
My grandfather passed away in November after fighting with the COVID-19 virus. This hurt me because I didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye. I kept my emotions pent up inside.
I am not the only person to have lost a family member or friend. I know a guy that lost his pregnant wife, another who lost his daughter. They didn’t keep their emotions pent up. One OD’d on heroin later dying, the other lashed out violently nearly stabbing another inmate to death.
I’m not sure if you’ve lost anyone or not in your life but, for us in here it hits home a lot harder because we look back on our past and blame ourselves for not being there. So to answer your first question as to what it has been like inside during this time. Painful in every sense of the word.
As to the reduced visitation from family and loved ones, I personally don’t know. I haven’t had a visit in 14 years. I can tell you that all the guys that do get visits tell me that it sucks. You only get one hour with your family or loved ones, you can give them one hug at the beginning, one hug at the end, no kiss, no holding hands etc.
Guys tell me that it hurts to because they don’t know if that’s the last time they’ll see their family or loved ones and vice versa.
I’ve been coping with the crisis the best anyone can. Before the crisis and the death of my grandfather I did a complete 360 in my life. I went back to school and got a BA in Criminal Justice/Poli Sci, and my Master’s in social work. I completed multiple programs such as Microsoft Office, Research, Public Speaking, Strategic Planning, team building, management etc.
I became a youth offender mentor, leader, and a substance abuse counselor. I was working toward the preparation of a commutation packet to the Governor. Since November I’ve used the lack of program in the prison due to COVID-19 to better prepare myself for parole or release, even though I don’t have anyone to help me from the streets to file a commutation.
I wish the other guys here could find it in themselves to use this time and pandemic to better themselves so that they can be there for their family and friends on the streets. Instead, they’re turning to illegal drugs and contraband cell phones to cope. Vaccinations are coming along. I received my second dose on April 2021.
Why so long you ask? I caught COVID in December. It nearly killed me. I went from 250 pounds to 181 pounds in a three-week time. I couldn’t eat or drink anything.
I caught it cleaning at COVID contaminated stalls. I wasn’t provided the right supplies and hazmat suits to clean and ended up hospitalized after catching a strain of COVID-19. I’m better now, I got my strength and health back.
I think that covers all the topics that you listed. I hope I was able to shed a little light for you. If you want to hear of how the COVID-19 pandemic has made corruption and the introduction to contraband worst let me know. If there is anything that you want to talk about or know about, be it, prison, prison politics, prison gangs, or about myself personally please feel free to write.
Another topic I can discuss later is phone calls, mails, religious services, packages from family or friends etc. You see you mailed your letter to me on the 20th of April, I didn’t get it until last night at 7pm, three weeks is good. It was taking nearly a month and a half this time last year.
With this I’ll close, as I need to write to some attorneys and see if I can find one to take my case on a pro bono and file for commutation/sentence modification. I hope that I will hear back from you regarding the pandemic and that I can help you further. Take care and may God Bless you.