Trying to survive

This story was told by a person incarcerated at Chuckawalla.

Caller: Well, when it first started, we didn’t know.

We didn’t know what was happening when it first started. They came and told us that, okay, these guys got to leave out the kitchen, but they all working with us. This is when – like in March it started and they – it took two buildings out and left us in there to work, and after that, they took us out. So then it – all the officers had to go to work. But then after a month or two, then they didn’t want to do it no more, so they start calling us in talking about this critical workers, this critical workers need to come in or you getting a write-up or whatever.

And I’m, like, it’s a pandemic. How you going to write me up when I’m trying to survive up in here? I – I got a life sentence, but I don’t have a death sentence; you know? And they put my life in danger, but it went on from there and they started getting better with the cleaning and doing all of these things, but it’s what you – they say close – they closed our day room for cleaning.

They clean up for, like, five seconds, wipe a table, and then they’re done. It’s not – that’s not cleaning. I was a porter for – for three years and that’s not cleaning. They don’t even use the right chemicals. They don’t use nothing they supposed to use to do the stuff with, and they won’t even give us chemicals to clean our – the cubes that we’re in. It’s eight people in a cube and they won’t give us the cleaner, but they want us to find ways to keep – keep lean up in here.

They – they put announcement on there with, okay, keep your areas clean and stay six feet away. How we going to stay six feet away? We in a open dorm. Everybody’s everywhere around here. It’s almost 200 people in this dorm and it shouldn’t have but 120. But I can’t do nothing about that. But it’s – it’s getting weird right now and they’re trying to do better, but it’s not working because you got a dorm full of people that don’t care about theirself.

So I try to stay away, I try to keep my mask on, I try to do the things I’m supposed to do to keep my area clean, but it’s only so much you can do if they won’t give you the stuff to clean with. So, you know, it’s – it’s kind of weird, but trying to do the best I can.

UCI: What do you think would make the situation at your facility better?

Caller: Well, only thing I could say is the people that’s – that’s in here that don’t have a lot of time, at least let them go. You know, let them – and start knocking the numbers down in these buildings because it’s almost like 190 up in here, almost 200 people in one building, and they’re everywhere. How we going to stay six feet apart? We got fans blowing. If somebody cough, it blows all over the building. So they need to start letting some of these people go.

That’s what they need to do. At least the ones with low level stuff. They not even letting nobody go right now. I don’t even – I don’t know how they doing that. It – it’s people like me that got diabetes, they don’t care about me. They got me stuck in this building and I can’t get away from these people. I try to go to work as much as I can, but I can’t – I got to go – oh, I got to be on the arm right next to somebody working on the line feeding everybody on this yard. But only thing I could say about that is start trying to release some of these people and get them out of here so we can knock the numbers down in these buildings.