No mask on

This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Centinela.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

To whom it may concern,

I am an inmate at Centinela State Prison in California. My family gave me your information and told me that I should write to you. I tried filing grievance and appeals to CDCR even sending them to the Office of Appeals in Sacramento. The department has completely ignored the time restraints regarding appeals and haven’t respond at all. I have log numbers for these appeals as proof.

None of the corrections officers or staff here at Centinela practice social distancing. They all sit right next to each other on the same benches, in the same little offices, at the podiums, most of the time with no masks on. I am writing this to you even though I fear retaliation from the correction officers if they read it. They say taking away all our family contact is for our physical health, what about our mental health? Isn’t that just as important? Someone has already tried killing themselves on this yard during this pandemic.

We haven’t seen our families in over eight months. And just last week out of nowhere, they took away more of our phone calls. I asked the assistant warden, “Why are you doing this? Isn’t the CDCR supposed to be helping us maintain our family connections? So that I can be apart of my children’s life so hopefully they won’t grow up to be criminals and I can break that cycle?” He told me, “Use a pen and paper to communicate with your children and that having no visit is a small sacrifice.”

Hearing this come from an assistant warden just shows me that the CDCR cares nothing about our mental health, our family connection, our rehabilitations, none of that. They say they took the phone calls because between each call the phones needed to be sanitized for 10 minutes. But they don’t sanitize the showers for 10 minutes between each use. Not at all in fact. They don’t sanitize the work bars 10 minutes between each use. No, they only target the phones and our family contact.

Are they just waiting for people to kill themselves? Family is the reason I behave, the reason I strive towards rehabilitation, the only thing to look forward to and they continue to take that away. They enforce all these COVID rules on us, so much so that we can’t see or talk to our families. But the correction officers don’t have to wear their masks, don’t have to social distance, and they are the ones who will be bringing in COVID, not us.

I feel like they are violating our human right to a family and creating a cruel and unusual environment. They haven’t even given us cleaner for the phones or anyone assigned to clean them between each use. They just took the phones. Inmates are forced to go to indoor assignments with staff from the outside who can easily have COVID or they will be disciplined. I haven’t been given any disinfectant once for myself since the start of this pandemic. Anyways, thanks for your time, concern, and for listening.

Take care, God bless.