This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Soledad.
I arrived here to Soledad North back in 2017, and early on in this year of 2020 many people did not take this COVID-19 epidemic too seriously. I know I didn’t. But I work here in PIA, textiles, and in March 2020 we were given the task of making, or sewing, face masks for state employees and prisoners. We made about 250,000. Then with the daily news updates is when I, and others started taking this seriously.
Even more so for me when I learned my nephew had become infected with COVID-19. I’m told he is doing well and is stable. But many people still to this day are not taking this seriously.
Here at Soledad prison, north yard, a new COVID-19 program was put into affect in which they began feeding us in our cells. And the only prisoners eating in the prison dining halls were certain workers, and only in the morning, and it was one person per table. The level one prisoners housed in the dorm were fed in the dining hall at both breakfast and dinner time.
The dorm holds about 200 prisoners and that number was cut in half due to the COVID-19 social distancing order. And even more so, for at one point I counted 36 prisoners housed in the north yard dorm.
Then on April 18, 2020, all the remaining prisoners in the north yard dorm were transferred to the CTF South facility, which is a level one facility. This is so that the north yard dorm could be used as a COVID-19 quarantine housing area. And at the same time half of Rainer Hall, B-side was cleared out of all prisoners.
So as to use Rainer Hall, B-side for a quarantine area for possible COVID-19 positive prisoners. And as a 14-day quarantine area for prisoners transferring, have from other prisoners and prison facilities. As well as for prisoners having to leave the prison and return.
What was upsetting about this was that so many prisoners who were situated well and living with a person they knew, liked, and were compatible with, were forced to move. And be placed in a cell with a prisoner they were strangers with, could not, or would not live with. And even in a couple of cases were forced to live with a prisoner of another race. And even though by rule interracial living is enforced by CDCR, many prisoners will not abide by that rule.
In many other prisons I have been at, the officers will allow a prisoner to look for a person he can live with when he is told he must find a cellmate. But here only a very few officers will afford you that opportunity. And many times you end up getting stuck with a prisoner who rarely showers, is dirty, and has no priority for his cleansing.