Larch Corrections Center

Larch Corrections Center is a minimum security work camp in Yacolt, in the southern part of the state, near the border with Oregon. It has a capacity of 480 people, all of whom have less than four years to release. Many of them are just months away from being released. This letter from someone incarcerated there was written in late March.

To whom it may concern, (whether you know it or not) this is a cry for acknowledgement from one of hundreds of American citizens whose lives are being put at risk by being housed in unsanitary conditions. Some of which have had contact with individuals suspected to be sick.

In this trying time of mass concern for the well-being of ourselves and others, the last thing one wants to hear is that people who have possibly been exposed to an illness of this magnitude are not only using the same phones, computers and faculties as the general prison population but they are also eating off the same plates, silverware and cups as we are.

“Asinine, ludicrous, and impossible!”

Any logical person would and should think first, yet it’s happening none the less. Quarantine techniques have been implicated, and although we are being physically separated from those who have been exposed, we are being forced to use the same surfaces that those who are infected have just finished using. Not before they use them, but rather, immediately after without anything being sanitized. No type of proper sanitation is being done to protect us after they’ve used equipments or touched surfaces. No gloves, bleach, face masks, or even an adequate briefing on what precautions need to be taken in order to prevent the spread of this virus, which has been deemed a pandemic by the ENTIRE world. None has been afforded to the population of this community we are forced to temporarily call home. I say forced because the place in which I’m writing from is a Minimum Security D.O.C work camp located in Yacolt Washington named Larch Mountain Corrections Center.

Myself, along with hundreds of other inmates, we are mere months from our release date, as is, and no one here has more than 4 years at maximum. Yet, we are being subjected to the aforementioned risks to our health. I myself am a healthy man in my early 30’s, however, there are elderly men here who have less time and so much more to lose by being exposed to a virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands, and has no sign of slowing, or having an antidote approved by FDA for the population of this great country.

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. We’ve all made mistakes, and we are serving our penance here in this Correctional facility. However, as I have mentioned before, not one man here has more than 4 years left on their sentence, yet, with the ever presence shadow of this pandemic looming over us all, this virus has the potential to turn a term of minor consequence into a possible death sentence everyday that we are left here to the devices of those who are supposed to keep us safe while we repay our debt to society.

Please take notice of our plight and give us the opportunity to do our part in this time of doing your part to protect the people of this world. We are also people of this world, the same as everyone else, the same as you. God bless, and we are sending our prayers out to you and your families…

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