This letter was written by a person incarcerated at High Desert.
Governing the powerless…
To whom it may concern,
Everyone on Earth felt the strange impact of the 2020 pandemic caused by COVID-19. But some felt the abrupt changes powerless to cease its destructive reverberations throughout their lives.
As a member of the prison population, I found myself in the category of the powerless. My life was subjected to the thoughts and decisions of authorities, who had no prior experience governing during a crisis of this magnitude.
I am a diabetic with hypertension, weighing 250 pounds, standing five feet, 10 inches. As a 43-year-old African American, I am categorized as high-risk for COVID-19.
In March 2020, all visitation was stopped. The stress began to build from that point. No Zoom call with friends and family. Just one collect call, on a walled landline, for almost 15 minutes each day. Three-way calls are prohibited, as grounds to terminate phone privileges immediately if detected for the day.
If I call my mother, I have to hope she’s already spoken with my wife, son, and other family members. Calling friends is absolutely out of the question because my stresses have me checking in with my asthmatic wife and 80-year-old parents daily.
During this time, the authorities continue to transfer prisoners to and from the prison. We were given masks and told to stay apart. While prison staff with antagonistic beliefs about the pandemic searched our cells, frisked our clothing and bodies, and handled our property.