This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Susanville.
The prison placed the institution on lockdown and on modified lockdown, in order to prevent the introduction of COVID-19. The first thing to end were the visits, second were the rehabilitative programs that inmates needed very bad. Religious programs also were put on pause. The prison did try to start to kick off some prison programs with watered down and sometimes silly homework packets, but they tried.
All work assignments for prisoners were also hindered, and only critical workers were allowed, to report to work, and let me emphasize the word “allowed.” Prisoner assigned work detail became a blessing. Being able to work was the only source of exercise, and fresh air.
For a long time, I was part of the inmate day labor. I was part of a crew of prisoners who were assigned to completely tear down our roof and replace it with a new one. It was a very big construction project that lasted almost eight months.
All throughout the pandemic, we were drilled with COVID precautions by the prison staff, still it took six months for the prison staff to finally issue masks. And it took a few weeks more for staff to wear them themselves!
Most of the CDCR staff were Donald Trump supporters and always had the Republican party disdain for COVID-19 and for mask mandated. A very large part of the prison guards actually became very petty and somewhat vindictive towards inmates because they were compelled to wear masks at the request of inmates.
The biggest stress on behalf of inmates was the fact that our lives were in the hands of an entire support staff who worked at the prison. We all knew that if COVID was going to penetrate our environment, it would be due to CDCR staff bringing it in to us. And we also knew that most of the guards thought that COVID-19 was a sham, thanks to the reckless encouragements Donald Trump was feeding them.
All in all, our lil’ strong hold, prison population was doing well. The COVID cases were sporadic and somewhat few at PVSP, until right after Christmas of 2020. I caught COVID-19 in later December. I was devastated, out of nowhere we were told that close to 700 inmates also got sick. In hindsight, maybe we contracted one some of those variants, CDCR never gives us details, so we just had to ride the wave.
On the first day being aware, that I was positive for COVID-19, I was totally shocked! I was a little bit frightened. I was undecided, whether I should inform my family. I did not want to alert my family, especially my mother. I did not want to stress her out any way, shape, or form.
Also, I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to hear her voice, my wife as well, but I had no opportunity with her. Knowing that it was now my turn to experience the nightmare illness, which has ended so many lives in our country, I finally decided to keep quiet. I actually wrote a “just in case” letter, one to my mom and one to my wife. I placed them inside my Holy Koran.
With the feeling of being bounded, I continued with strength. I literally was waiting for a battle. I was anticipating a fight, but it never came. My symptoms were minor, very minor, of the portion of those infected.
My experience was merciful. I felt blessed and I still do. I’m proud of my experience and glad to share. I hope you find this useful.