Prisoners Write, Exposing Conditions Under COVID-19 Pandemic in America’s Hellholes



What follows are excerpts from a number of letters we received from prisoners in response to our request to describe the conditions those incarcerated are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have posted other prisoner letters in recent weeks—here and here—about what is going on now. In state after state, city after city, there are promises and hype—but hundreds of thousands of human beings who have either committed no crime at all and are merely unable to post bail (itself an unconstitutional and objectively racist policy), or who were not convicted of crimes involving violence against another person, are being sentenced to possible death and disability.

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence and shining a light on what is going on behind prison walls. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere on our site.

“If I contract the virus, it’s a possibility my 7 year bid will turn into a death sentence”

... [H]ere is how the prison I’m at is handling covid-19. All visitation are cut off till further notice. They are giving us 25 min telephone calls & 3 stamps on J-pay. Also, recently I’m down at xxxxx in the lower levels. A facility was using a unit for quarantine & 3 people, fellow prisoners, walked out the unit, rather than stay & get infected w/covid-19. So, they sent the prisoners to xxxxx for inciting a riot. But, all 3 prisoners had contracted the virus & now us xxxxx convicts are at risk of catching covid-19....

However, testing is non-existent. All they do is quarantine suspected people for 24-75 hours & let em loose to expose other people to the virus. This is devastating!

Messed up, thing is (MDOC) has other closed down prisons they can open back up & use as quarantine h.q. Hire RN’s & keep the majority of prisoners w/Covid-19 away from others. Also, there is a full unit up in the upper Peninsula that is an actual quarantine housing unit but, MDOC don’t wanna waste money, instead they rather help spread covid-19 virus & condemn us all.

It’s outrageous because I know that if I contract the virus its a possibility, that my 7 year bid will turn into a death sentence....

This has got to end! Revolution—Nothing Less!



“As I watch these events unfold, I realize just how spiteful, disgusting, & cruel this governmental system is”

... I am HIGHLY compelled to elaborate upon my experience with the coronavirus impact here in South Carolina XXXXXXXXX Correctional Institution.

As I watch these events unfold, I realize just how spiteful, disgusting, & cruel this governmental system is. When the 1st known cases aboard ship & plane were bound for these shores from infected areas abroad the C.D.C. & other officials, despite common sense, allow those on board to return home but instructed them to self-quarantine. Who in their right mind would send potentially “harmful-to-everyone’s-well-being” people home without proper evaluation or escort? I believe mass murderers would.

It goes parallel with the Justice system; spend way below the budget, but still meet the quota. Instead of releasing “in-danger/high-risk” prisoners they have us still operating as usual. Going to the cafeteria in a 50+ environment or back to our living quarters without adequate cleaning supplies. I work in the cafeteria & have noticed that they have various bottles of 50/50 bleach (½ water), not to mention a major roach & rat infection. The only change made was inmates can’t go out on the highways to pick up trash or clean up parks. Officers comes to work without proper protective equipment to not only protect the prison population but themselves as well. Without confirmation I just know that there are more cases of COVID-19 than the 2 officers they said tested positive at one institution (no inmates have been properly tested).

The system here in America is so warped in a power struggle that the lives of its inhabitants is put on the “back burner” with the stove on high....



“This institution is putting all inmates at risk”

I am in XXXXXXXXXXX State Prison. I have observed several inmates in my institution display several symptoms that seem severe, like high fever over 100.5 F, dry cough, shortness of breath and even difficulty breathing. These are symptoms of the Covid-19-Coronavirus. Still the medical staff refuses to conduct any kind of testing like a nasal swab or throat swab or even a chest x-ray. [The] only kind of treatment each patient is given is several packs of ibuprofen and several packs of chlorpheniramine. That is used to treat seasonal allergies.... Also the whole prison system in Florida has been placed on lockdown till the end of April. We have not had any outside contact visitation with our Family in months due to social distancing. We have limited outside contact.

This institution is putting all inmates at risk. So please put the word on social media....

Another concern is that the correctional staff here upon coming to work in the building, their temperatures are never taken by the medical staff here which places all inmates at risk of getting the coronavirus-Covid-19 and not providing medical staff to screen everyone entering the building....



“[They’re] barely feeding us, taking away more rights, no cleaning...”

I’ m incarcerated at SCI XXXXX, a PA state prison and they are handling this epidemic horribly. They handed out 1 box of Anti Bacterial soap once. They also gave us a paper mask. The only thing that they seemed to do was take away our contact visits an lock the jail down. They did all these things for inmates in population such as free cable, free phone call, free email.

No inmate goes to chow. We get served chow in a breakfast bag in the morning, with stale bread and stale muffin, half of cup of hot cereal (sometimes) and a frozen milk. Now apparently population receives three breakfast bags the night before. But myself and the rest of the RHU [Restricted Housing Unit, or Solitary Confinement] have to wait till the next morning to receive our bag which by that time the bread and muffin is stale. Now our lunch and dinner trays are disposable. There’s hardly any food on the trays. It’s like the way they’re feeding us seems to be like they’re running out of food! Now what they did do because of the visit situation was give us 5 min phone calls Mon-thru-Fri! We don’t get no recreation. We are in our cell 24 hrs a day. They make all these accommodations to general population. But really didn’t do anything for the RHU inmates except for that 5 min phone call. If they’re gonna take our recreation they could at least feed us appropriately!! Or since they keep taking something away from us, let us order food [from the prison commissary]!

Every range in the RHU is Dirty. We are only offered to clean our cells every Saturday but we have to use what the next man used in his cell. They ain’t switching out the cleaning supplies. They ain’t putting any good cleaning chemicals on the cart. They say they’re doing all this stuff for us so nothing happens, but in reality they’re lying to make themselves look good! They even stopped doing linen exchange so we were stuck with the same dirty linens. But yet the only thing it seems they’re really doing is taking away rights or something else each week!! If you would see the trays we’re served or how dirty this hole is, you would be disgusted to the max. What can we do? Write grievance about it? That don’t work?! Write request? That don’t work?! The people in the RHU are honestly suffering from this more than anybody because we don’t get our recreation, we only shower 3x a week. We can’t order our food from commissary. Wow we get a 5 min phone call Monday thru Friday! How’s that helping us honestly. We are grateful to tell family we love or miss them every day cause that’s honestly all you can say in 5 mins. Every day we get less and less food. The CO’s don’t care. They just laugh about it. The PA DOC isn’t concerned about the Virus. They already had somebody at SCI YYYYY who tested positive for Corona. But yet they supposedly closed down SCI YYYYY. All these people do is lie. From administration down to the fake nurses and COs. That’s a fact. Here’s just a glimpse about how SCI XXXXX is handling Corona. Barely feeding us, taking away more rights, no cleaning, what a joke!!



“Hope to see the day when the masses finally wake up”

I send my Revolution salute full blast your way even during this time of the suppose coronavirus epidemic. Well here in California we have a state-wide cancellation of contact visits, modify controlled yard time, controlled feeding & no work/education/self-help programs at this moment until further notice. In reality this is the way it is normally run in maximum security level-4 prisons. But now it is being implemented at level 3, level 2, level 1 & camps. The prison guards are unsure about everything because things are constantly changing day by day & sometimes by hour.

I am very thankful for receiving the Revolution on a weekly basis & it is way more fucken informative than anything else available.

Personally I do hope to see the day when the masses finally wake up in an enlightenment manner & say enough is enough including have the revolution courage to replace this sham democracy/social-democrat/fascist institution or Capitalist-Imperialist Society. Hopefully sooner that I expect it.


American Crime

See all the articles in this series, including:

Case #81: September 13, 1971—Massacre of Heroic Attica Prisoners

On September 9, 1971, the most powerful and significant prison rebellion in U.S. history erupted at Attica state prison in New York. Attica was part of the Black liberation struggle and the revolutionary upheaval of the 1960s. Photo: AP

Read more


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