A lot has happened this week. On Monday, all of us were issued homemade facemasks per directive from the director requiring facemasks to be worn at all times. A week ago supplies were purchased, and thousands of masks were made here by us inmates. By coincidence, at my facility the first COVID-19 case amongst staff was confirmed on Wednesday. The staffer in question was one of the outside contractors.
The institution acted quickly by quarantining those inmates who worked closely around the contractor. All of the other contractors that had regular contact with this individual have been sent home to self-quarantine. Our warden promptly contacted all of us by email and kept us appraised of the situation. Guys are thankful for this engagement, and thankful that quick action has been taken.
COVID-19 cases have appeared in a number OH facilities, first amongst staff, but with a growing number of inmates testing positive. At my institution there aren’t yet any confirmed cases amongst the inmate population, though this may change.
Social distancing is being taken seriously here. Recreational activities have been curtailed, and social games have all been suspended. Even our commissary has closed to physical shopping. Instead, we submit our shopping lists and commissary then fills the order and sets it at the front door of the store for pick up. Pick up orders are supervised and overseen by commissary staff, and the process has run smoothly.
By mandate from the director, commissary prices have been cut to “cost,” which equates to a 20% mark down on nearly everything. Most inmates rely on money sent to them by their families. By cutting prices you are in effect reducing the financial burden on our families, all of whom are already suffering financially because of the stay at home orders. It’s a thoughful move all of us are thankful for.
The director Ms. Annette Chamber-Smith has been in regular email contact with us, and has kept us appraised every step of the way. I am continually surprised at the engagement and compassion this director has shown us. It is consistent with her efforts at reform and rehabiltation. My peers and I think highly of her engagement.
Someone out there recently told me they didn’t know how they were going to get through this time of difficulty. In a strange way, everyone is facing a hardship similar to what us prisoners experience. My advice? Just do it the way I do here–one day at a time. Eat the elephant, as I like to say. How does one do that? One bite at a time of course.
Everything will be fine.
*The spread of coronavirus behind bars is serious, especially with todays aging prisoner population. Do share this post with others. Even behind walls all of us are doing our part through social distancing, good hand washing, and hygiene. No one is immune.