Coronavirus pandemic: Testimonials from inside

Testimonials from Inside
We will be posting a series of testimonials from incarcerated people in Washington about the coronavirus pandemic.
+ Washington State Reformatory (posted May 20, 2020): Here we post a poem written in March but received and posted in May. Read the full poem here.

+ Washington State Reformatory
(posted May 20, 2020): “One thing I would like the public to consider is that the focus of DOC has never been in the interest of incarcerated individuals. We have very few rights/liberties and I do not want those in positions of authority to use this as an opportunity to further strip us of our rights/privileges as well as the rehabilitation programs that were created by incarcerated individuals or programs that have the best interest of inmates in mind. As well as continue the separation between us our families and dedicated volunteers.” [end statement]

+ Twin Rivers Unit (a diary of letters from April 16-21, 2020): “I am seeing all these news stories about protestors who are demanding an end to isolation and social distancing orders. At the same time I am seeing these news stories, I am also watching DOC vans and cars driving people to E unit to be isolated and just this morning I watched an ambulance take someone out of E unit to the hospital because of covid-19.” Read the full letter here.

+ Pierce County Jail (posted April 22, 2020): “Yes, if they would move some people out of the prison, there would be more space and we’d have a better chance.  But other than that, we’re stuck.  And no court dates.  No right to a speedy trial these days.  None of us has a court date.” Read the full letter here.

+ Twin Rivers Unit (multiple letters received between April 9 and April 14, 2020): “When any virus hits the facility, it does not stop until enough incarcerated people get it to achieve herd immunity. That means 70% to 80% of us get sick. This is why we are so scared. There needs to be drastic changes to prevent this from happening and that will not happen without massive support from people outside the prison.” Read the full letter here.

+ Washington State Reformatory (posted March 31, 2020): “Look, all jokes aside. I’m scared shitless in here. I find myself trying to make jokes about the situation to help cope with my own fear and anxiety. How’s it working? It’s tough being so isolated in here worried sick about my loved ones. Thoughts of my aging parents, my kids missing school, and my boujee sister probably out there protesting on my behalf somewhere. I watch the news all day and selfishly wish I could be watching an NBA game to take my mind off all things Corona but even that has been canceled.” Read the full letter here.

+ Larch Corrections Center (three letters received March 26, 2020): “My personal experience has been a stressful one. I am confined to a day room, when I was in a room already away from most everyone. And I feel like people here are afraid of me when I do get a chance to go out and do the things I need to do, and having all these random people come to the window and looking in at us like were caged animals at the zoo.” Read the full letters here.

+ Stafford Creek Corrections Center (posted March 31, 2020): “Currently DOC has implemented protocals of social distancing and other measures that include no visitations until this pandemic is all over. These new protocols and restrictions have left things unclear and is creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, Which many of the folks incarcerated can only wait in isolation and worry helplessly while our loved ones are struggling and in fear of their own lives and future.” Read the full letter here.

+ Larch Corrections Center (posted March 30, 2020): “I write this as a plea. I too have loved ones who are being impacted by this virus. I too have concerns for the lives of my elderly family members, as well as, for the lives of these older men whom I have built friendships with that are being repeatedly put at risk through sheer negligence when they have the right to safety.” Read the full letter here.

+ Concerned Lifers Organization statement on COVID 19: “The Concerned Lifers Organization’s Legislative Committee urges advocates to push for a specific legislative fix to COVID-19’s threat to prisoners: Restore earned release time (ERT) to one-third on all convictions without exclusions for mandatory minimum terms, sentence enhancements, or other provisions that prevent good time on any portion of a sentence.” Read the full proposal here.

Updates from the University of Washington Bothell's Project on Mass Incarceration in Washington State