This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Solano.
Here is a little about me. I’m 58 years of age. I’m from South Los Angeles. I’ve been incarcerated for 40 years. I’m African-American and Native American. My interest range from political science to pro sports, hip hop music to soft rock, and soap operas to PBS (Frontline, POV etc.)
As you may see, I’m pretty opened minded. My questions may not be in line with the purpose of your correspondence, so if I don’t hear back from you, I’ll understand. But I do look forward to a response. Before I conclude, I will include a short missive about living with this pandemic.
When I first became aware of COVID-19, I worked here in the education department. The classroom held 10 to 20 individuals. I recall two particular guys in the class having what appeared to be a cold or flu. I was a little leery of it and decided to stay as far away from them as I could, but this was difficult because of the size of the classroom, very small. This was in March of 2020!
Eventually all classes were cancelled. One of the individuals that I noticed in the class with the cold or flu symptoms actually turned out to have COVID. Fortunately no one else in the class tested positive.
The institution eventually passed out cloth mask that were made of the same material use to make prison clothing. My level of anxiety began to get a bit higher. Most of the inmates didn’t take the crisis serious until word from other prisons began to filter in. In particular, the numbers of infected inmates at Chino really put a face on the situation that could no longer be ignored.
Correctional staff and inmates began to take this serious. But how do you facilitate social distancing in a prison setting without completely locking it down? That was a dilemma. Many solutions were put forward, but until videos of prisons settings, taken by illegal cell phones, began showing up on social media not much was changing. Political correctness!
Ironically, the infection rate here at CSP Solano remained low, probably the lowest in all of California prisons. This remained so until inmates began being transferred here from other institutions. When I heard about San Quentin’s infection rate skyrocketing after inmates were transferred there from Chino, I began to worry.
Why would inmates in a COVID-19 hot spot be transferred to another institution with low infection rates? I really began to fear for my safety at this point. Our lives depended on the decisions made by people that made a decision to send sick inmates to another institution. Inmates were dying there at an alarming rate at SQ as a result of this decision. So this virus became real.