This letter was written by a person incarcerated at New Folsom.
COVID has been hell on prisoners’ nerves because everyone’s worried about their loved ones’ health. Things are getting a little better now with the vaccine. Guys are not as tense or irritable as before because many of our loved ones are getting their vaccines. To give you a little more insight into this anxiety I’ll explain why guys worried so much.
In the beginning of the pandemic, no one knew how lethal this virus was. Couple that with the fact that many of the prisoners on maximum security prisons (which CSP-Sacramento is) have been incarcerated for many years so our parents and/or grandparents and siblings are older and therefore vulnerable to COVID. So between ignorance and old age we were worried. To be clear, I didn’t meet anyone who was/is worried about his own health.
We prisoners are very fatalistic and cynical and quite accustomed to the possibility of pain or death. A typical sardonic joke among our own was/is “I bet you COVID isn’t as bad as kicking” (kicking is slang for heroin withdrawal). I’d rather get COVID than kick!
Visits have been cancelled. They are beginning to give them back to us but they are very restricted so that most guys don’t even bother. This is a real source of anger and frustration among those who got their vaccines and have family members who are also vaccinated. I don’t really get visits as most of my family died while I was in the SHU (Security Housing Unit). I can still empathize with my fellow prisoners but it’s not an issue that affects me directly.
The work assignments and self-help groups on the other hand, affect me immensely. I work in the kitchen so whenever my block is quarantined I can’t work. I got vaccinated so that I could work under any circumstances but if your block gets quarantined you can’t leave the block. This is very frustrating, but I suppose it should be expected from this monstrous bureaucracy called CDCR. Bureaucracy is the enemy of common sense.