This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Susanville.
Or whoever else it may concern, today I received your letter regarding your PrisonPandemic Project at UC Irvine. I’ll respond and hope it helps you, but I must say I found it irritating that I’m on a public list. That’s what I get for being so damn interesting, huh? Well here goes.
My experience starting in November 2019 before anybody even knew what COVID-19 was, including myself. This sickness was spreading around the yard and it was kicking a lot of asses. I was drained. My body constantly ached. I had a screaming headache.
I was hacking up a lot of neon green mucus and had a hard time breathing. I have nasal polyps that swelled up and cracked my nose shut, and they were cracking and bleeding. I saw the doctor and was put on penicillin because the assumption was nasal infection. I was then required to keep going to my vocational automatics course.
I don’t blame CDCR because COVID-19 was still unknown, but felt I deserved a little slack. I obviously had something wrong with me! I remember if any incident when I was drained and falling asleep at my desk. Other inmates started telling me, “Get up! Get up!” I look up feeling very groggy and see a correctional officer standing in front of me.
I promise you that the fat [redacted] looked just like Peter Griffin from the Family Guy cartoons. Then he proceeded to make fun of me, “Woo hoo! Someone partied hard last night.” I’m so damn gorgeous and Peter Griffin was there with the audacity to make fun of me! Wow! Still strikes me funny. You had to be there!
Even when I got over the sickness, my nasal polyps were still very swollen. I went to the doctor complaining about them, she said that I didn’t have enough time for surgery. Then she looked in my nostrils and said, “Woah! Those need to come out!” Yeah, yeah. My sentiments exactly. I was then referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist.
He prescribed me a steroid to bring down inflammation and it helped tremendously. Soon after cutting off the pill, the polyps swelled back up and I then tried the steroid shot. The effect helped as well, but did not last nearly as long as it should have either. Upon return, the specialist approved surgery. I was happy.
After that, things started to look up. I took my certification test in automatics and passed. I was also about to be moved into an honor dorm with less people, cleaner, and quieter. Then everything fell through. CDCR decided to stop all movement to slow the spread, but at first it wasn’t working. They started mandatory testing and as they found positive tests, they were moved into isolation dorms.
I really don’t think that helps anything. All that I saw come out of the move was no more honor dorms, it got messed up for me. What really helped in my opinion was when they started releasing people early. They still had positive cases, but far less. During the time frame of July 2020 and November 2020 I had two positive tests but never felt sick.
Immunity to the virus had already been built up when I got sick November of 2019. By the way, I know it was COVID-19 before we realized there was such a thing, because of information one of the correctional officers told us one morning during breakfast. He told us COVID-19 already had gone through their prison, he wasn’t concerned.
The reason being that one of the officers had gone on vacation in China right around the time COVID-19 first hit over there. He had no doubt, and I know he’s right.
I must tell you that although vocation programs and rehabilitation programs were shut down because there was no movement, I was able to enroll in college correspondence. That alone I can be grateful for, I was one of the few people fortunate enough to accomplish anything through the pandemic. For the fall semester of 2020, I earned 84 days off my sentence and my standing is dean’s honors.
I almost have spring semester of 2021 behind me. I’ll be earning 84 more days off my sentence and will retain dean’s honors. I now look onto summer semester 2021. So I’ve been able to fight through the struggle.
However, vocation did try to deny me the auto mechanic certificate I earned due to the pandemic. I filed an appeal, and I want it. Now it’s in my file. I wanted it there because I have a proposition 57 date for non-violent release. My accomplishments look good for that.
During the course of COVID-19, my fire camp program has been cut off. The reason really being because of my nasal polyps as I write this story. I have a medical hold and am forbidden to go to camp until surgery. Today I saw the doctor and he told me to be patient, things are about to open up medically from COVID-19 restrictions.
My surgery will be soon. I hope so. I have just over three and a half years left on my sentence. Fire camp will cut that time in half.
Rehabilitation programs started back up for me about two months ago. I have earned a 10-day time cut from NA, AA, and power up. I am working on a second 10 day time cut. So that’s good. I am working outside the prison grounds as a painter. That’s valuable. Learning a trade. Yes, learning there is more to painting than many people think.
Sure anybody can do it, but the thing there is, are they doing a good job? Technicalities are easily ignored because it seems so simple. How could you mess up painting right? Well, I’m here to tell you there is a procedure. Many procedures. My boss considers me a good painter. But I mess up, believe me. But it is easy to learn. I will master it.
In a way, COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise. Nasal polyps had me taken off of firefighter duty – I’m learning a good trade. Also if not for COVID-19, I wouldn’t be getting my nasal polyps removed. The Lord works in mysterious ways! I hope my story helps.