Out of control

This story was told by a person incarcerated at Avenal.

Caller: Well, it’s been out of control, honestly. Like there’s so many people that are just – well, there’s no social distancing here whatsoever.

We’re in a dorm setup and they expect us to – for us to be safe and make everyone else safe and be considerate of others. There is no possible way to social distance in here. Like our beds are three feet apart. We use the same restrooms. We use the same phones. You know, everything we – we have in here, we have to all use right after one another and there’s no possible way of preventing yourself from getting the virus.

And there’s been several people here that have been – have – that have been diagnosed with the virus.


UCI: Mm-hmm.

Caller: More than, I think, 80 percent of the prison has tested positive, and it’s just – it’s not stopping. It’s just people are still testing positive. It’s not under control. Nothing seems to be working.

UCI: And what is – like what is troubling you or concerning about the situation to you?

Caller: I feel like the – I feel like officers aren’t being considerate of the inmates. They have a lot more better medical attention than we do. I feel like officers come in here without their masks on, they go home every day. There – there’s no possible way of us bringing it in because we do not leave. So with that being the – the officers go home every night or – or in the daytime, what – and they bring it into us.

So them getting their tests only once a week, the day after they test, they could just bring it right back in the very next day; you know? So I don’t know how – how they, you know, this is – that’s why it’s out of control is because the officers have – are bringing it in. I don’t know how to – what else to say about that.

UCI: What would you – what would make the situation at your facility better?

Caller: Cutting down the population in here; you know? Like getting rid of people that are close to going home. Just, you know, most of us have – I myself am going home in days, so –

UCI: Oh, wow.

Caller: – to make me just fin out – finish out my sentence is crazy whenever there’s people that are – done the whole sentence, have no write-ups, you know, have been on good behavior, I feel like they should be considerate and move them out to make it more social distancing in here; you know? The less numbers, the, you know, the more you can keep six feet away from each other. You know, maybe they can maintain it a little bit better, more medical attention for the ones that are going to need it.

I – you know, I feel like that’s maybe one thing that they can do to – to help out. Cells would be – if we had cells that – that would be a lot better also, but we’re not able to – this is a dorm setup. When you come to a level one or level two prison, that’s the beds of it. So when something like this happens, we cannot be in our cell and locked down and be away from others until we get rid of it. Right here, there’s – in my – inside my dorm, there’s six bunks.

So there’s – there’s normally 12 people in there. Two racks they emptied out to try to social distance, but so there’s two – there’s three people that sleep within two feet away from me; okay? So I don’t understand, like, and also, two of us tested positive and the two that tested negative never got moved out. They put them right back in the same dorm with us. So I don’t understand.

Like, I feel that they’re at risk because I myself tested positive, but the ones that didn’t test positive, why would – I don’t understand why they would put them right back in the same dorm two feet away from us and put them at risk of getting it.