WA DOC Cohort Policy Applies Only to Prisoners, Not Officers & Staff

WA DOC Cohort Policy Applies Only to Prisoners, Not Officers & Staff

This morning (3-24-21) at Twins Rivers Unit in Washington state, an incarcerated individual approached C.U.S Collins with a complaint about the imposition of a new DOC policy that required incarcerated individuals to cohort. This man asked why is it that we are being subject to punishment if we don’t cohort, but the staff (Corrections Officers and Administration) walk from unit to unit and potentially pass Covid. This man was told that staff is doing what they can.

Then when asked “How come we are not allowed to sit at a table that has 4 seats with 3 other men, or a table with six seats with 5 other men?” When all Washington counties are in phase 3. We have 3 wings per unit and it’s basically bedrooms (cells) with a living room (day room) but with each wing having 75+ men we are only allowed about 23 men in the day room and we have to be six feet away with our masks on. Now when we get caught with our mask down on a phone or talking to another person we are subject to punishment. We are basically in our house’s living room – why do we have to wear a mask at home? Staff go home and remove their masks and relax. Staff can only bring Covid into us so they should be the only ones wearing mask as you would if you had company come over.

Furthermore we should have the governor give guidelines for the prisons if they are not to follow the phase for the county they reside. The whole state is in phase 3, DOC is in sec.1 of phase 1. As communities move forward, DOC moved back. After expressing all this to C.U.S Collins this man was told to make a complaint. His response was “I am making a complaint.” Then he was told to yard in as they were gonna have a “Play Safety Muster.” Which is where they talk about safety in the units. When they should be talking about how punishing us for not following a unwritten rule doesn’t coincide with state policy. State employees will not be fined or punished for not wearing a mask but can impose punishment for a choice.

Our families need to know we’re being taken care of by knowing DOC is following all the phasing that is taking place in the state. And that we’re not being punished for asking why.

Prisons Use Covid to Enhance Punishment

Prisons Use Covid to Enhance Punishment

We’ve heard a few stories about how prisons use Covid as an excuse to enhance punishment of their charges. We received this letter from the mother of a person incarcerated at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Washington Department of Corrections. We have reported this to the Office of the Corrections Ombuds, Washington State Representative Roger Goodman, and Washington State Senator Jeannie Darneille.

My son is an inmate at this facility. When they had their first deaths, my son’s pod was completely free of any known Covid patients. There are about 200 inmates in a pod. Gradually there were some positives and they were moved out to a different location .

They gave them a phone schedule for those times allowed out so I was still able to talk to him. As some of the inmates returned to the pod, there started to be some confusion. Soon they were taken back out of the pod and put to work cleaning the areas where those who tested positive were kept. They were still using the same pod as where they returned. Then the numbers started rising, the guards continued as though they, the guards, were not quarantined.

If you have IBS you are in pain the whole wait. If you can’t hold it then you have to go for a shower. My son had been given permission for at least a urinal bottle but was later told he did not qualify. They are now allowed only 25 minutes out of the cell a day and he can only call every other day.

It is completely inhuman to deny them access to water and toilets. These cells were not designed for a completely locked down situation. The facility does not return calls. I have no idea how to help him other than to try to at least maintain contact as much as possible. Thanks for listening.

<Name redacted>’s mom

The Pod he is in is a minimum security pod where bathrooms and showers are located in the day room. In a pod such as his, the doors to the cells are typically not locked, since access to a toilet is not possible otherwise. But Washington State prison officials apparently think that Covid is a good excuse to deny inmates access to showers and toilets, basic necessities that are their responsibility to provide, not when it is convenient for them, but all the time even if it is not convenient for them.

Establishing WSRU’s Negligence

February 8, 2021

Negligence, n. 1. The failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation any conduct that falls below the legal standard established to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm. 2. A tort grounded in this failure, usu. expressed in terms of the following elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

As most incarcerated persons are aware, DOC, which includes WSRU, has a legal duty to protect them, i.e., ensure their safety. But WSRU has been negligent in fulfilling this duty, and I’ll explain how by comparing WSRU’s mismanagement of its current COVID-19 outbreak to mismanagement of a business, which would most certainly result in job terminations.

The Negligent GM

Let’s say you owned a business and assigned a general manager (GM) to run it, and the business began hemorrhaging money. What would you expect the GM to do? Personally, I’d expect the GM to investigate the crisis and implement a plan with solutions to slow my company’s financial losses.

Now say the GM decided to implement some minor adjustments to isolate the losses to an area of the business. Nonetheless, the company continued losing money at staggering rates, and the whole time the GM, hoping to ride the crisis out, sat on his hands.

The GM was contacted by a reasonably prudent company employee who detailed multiple viable solutions that could have saved the company, but the GM disregarded them. First, he denied receiving the solutions, and then failed to answer the employee’s second letter with solutions. So, the employee filed an official complaint against the GM in an effort to save the owner’s company and assets.

Still, the GM continued to sit on his hands, didn’t investigate the viability of the employee’s commonsense solutions, and eventually the other half of the owner’s company also went under.

Business Comparables

Company: WSRU
Company Owner: Governor Jay Inslee
Company GM: Superintendent Eric Jackson
Company Employee: Offender Jacob Gamet

Negligent Superintendent

Here at WSRU, a COVID-19 outbreak happened (and is currently happening on the other half of the prison, A/B units) that resulted in nearly half of WSRU’s offender population (C/D units) being infected.

Notably, before the outbreak there were about 10 bags of hand disinfectant dispersed around D-unit for offender use. All were removed prior to the outbreak!

Despite WSRU admin implementing modified (limited movement) lockdowns, offenders continued catching COVID-19 at steadily rising rates. It got so bad that offenders were being hauled out in groups of 60-plus at a time! Even though lives were being endangered, WSRU admin never investigated why positive cases continued rising if offenders were supposedly wearing masks. They sat on their hands and did nothing.

Then, I caught COVID-19 and was escorted with a group of offenders to ad-seg (the “hole”). I was befuddled as to how I caught the virus because I was hyper-vigilant in wearing my mask, washing my hands, and social distancing as best I could in WSRU’s congregate, communal environment where social distancing is impossible.

So, I sat back and thought about how I caught the virus, which didn’t take long. I discovered multiple points that I may have caught it. One, the tier showers where three stalls are situated next to each other and the two other offenders who showered in stalls next to me around the time of testing were hauled to the hole with me.

MY SUGGESTION: one person shower per tier during outbreaks.

Two, there are unit wall vents by the phones that blow strong gusts of air out of their sides and carry phone conversations well beyond the CDC’s 6-foot distance rule. There’s no plastic barriers installed between many of the phones situated next to each other.

MY SUGGESTION: prison unit staff regularly enforce the unit mask-wearing policy on offenders who pull their masks off or down while talking on phones.

Three, neither are prison unit staff regularly enforcing the unit’s mask-wearing policy on offenders who don’t wear their masks during TTY and Jpay kiosk video visits, which are situated in communal areas where other offenders congregate. There’s also wall vents in those areas which push offender saliva beyond the established 6-foot distance.

MY SUGGESTION: same as previous.

And four, WSRU has open bar cells, at which offenders stand at and yell from cell to cell, spreading their saliva into neighboring cells of unmasked offenders.

MY SUGGESTION: flame retardant plastic be used to cover cells bars around cell bunks.

I sent multiple letters to WSRU admin informing them of these unit breach points and suggested solutions (above) to them. They replied to my first kite, alleging it did not have the sealed and addressed envelope (w/ letter inside) I attached to it with Scotch tape. I sent a second with rubber bands attaching the envelope to the kite but received no response.

Finally, I sent an official grievance and am waiting for a response. But I’m concerned because A/B units have a nearly identical unit setup as C/D units, and so the offenders over there are now testing positive at similar rates that C/D units did. I’m concerned about their lives, and I wish WSRU admin shared my concern.

Is WSRU Enacting Herd Immunity?

After offenders caught COVID-19, WSRU medical staff told me and other offenders that we now have a 90-day immunity. Was this WSRU’s plan all along, to sit back, do nothing meaningful, and let us catch the virus?

Of course, a 90-immunity would seem more convenient than dealing with one outbreak after another. But such a decision would demonstrate a reckless disregard for offender lives.

While WSRU admin won’t admit to practicing “herd immunity,” their inaction begs to question whether offender lives were LESS important to them than a business losing ALL of its money.

WA DOC Cohort Policy Applies Only to Prisoners, Not Officers & Staff

Update: Here’s what’s happening

An update from our friend in WSRU in WA DOC – read his post Preparing for Quarantine that he wrote just before being moved. Today he was moved back to general population.

I’m doing great physically. I developed a sore throat (which became a slight cough) and rolling chills for a couple days. Otherwise, I didn’t have any breathing issues, didn’t lose my sense of smell or taste, no headaches, cramps, or other issues.

The section of the IMU I was housed for 7 days was actually comfy. It was spacious, had a 21″ flat screen with cable and a remote, the best mattress I’ve slept on in prison, and I got showers, clothes (t-shirt, boxers, socks, towel, and rag) and phones every other day.

But IMU living wasn’t so good for other guys elsewhere in the hole. One guy said he didn’t get a shower for 5 days. An elderly man tested positive, fell and hit his head and died in IMU. Another didn’t get medical treatment to change his colostomy bag for 6 hours and developed extreme stomach pains. The bag was used after he caught COVID-19. They didn’t get clean bedding or hepastat cleaner. They didn’t have TVs or electric outlets.

Five other guys were were lost after being housed in 3 Seg with probation violators. They reported black mold, freezing cold showers, being given 2 ounces of disinfectant (in a Dixie cup) to clean their cells for two weeks. One guy filed a medical emergency grievance for complications with COPD and asthma (needing inhalers) and staff returned it to him saying it didn’t constitute an emergency. A memo said the water was unsafe. So, they were given 1.05 pints of bottled water every 8 or more hours.

Two of the guys in 3 Seg tested positive, weren’t tracked, and were mistakenly transferred to A/B units and infected guys there.

Yeah, I’m in the gym with about 100+ guys living on cots. There’s some chairs and tables. It’s loud throughout the day, hard to sleep, and a pain to use one of two phones, which can take as long as 1.5 hours.

We don’t have WiFi, but I’m able to send and receive messages because there’s a section of the gym that has one bar of reception. We don’t have enough clothes so we’re hand washing our clothing and linen. Since we all tested positive, virtually everyone is NOT wearing a mask.

We have these portable Royal Restrooms (w/ nonpotable water) outside for showers and bathroom. They’re decent but some are tight on space. Some have half showers. We can watch one of about 20 DVD movies (on 3 TVs) and regular Cable TV (on 2 TVs).

One morbidly obese guy doesn’t have any extra clothing. He sleeps on the floor because the cot doesn’t support his weight. And numerous guys are being kept in the gym beyond the 20 days claimed by prison staff and prison medical staff. One guy was quarantined for 23 days.

These living conditions are cruel and inhumane. Many IMU and 3 Seg staff are apathetic to guys and ignore them, feed them lies and don’t follow through, and treat them like they’re being sanctioned for disciplinary reasons. This is in direct conflict with DOC’s memo that we’re not supposed to be treated like those for disciplinary reasons. But I say that they shouldn’t be treated that way anyway.

After being diligent in my mask wearing, hand washing, and other precautionary measures, I still caught COVID-19. I sent the WSRU superintendent a letter identifying 5 breaches in protection against COVID-19 and provided solutions to remedying them.

1. The showers are where guys de-mask and talk from stall to stall, infecting one another. A shower schedule is needed that limits showers to one person at a time.
2. The unit vents blow air further than 6 ft. and there are no barriers, especially because guys are not regularly monitored or told to put their masks on.
3. The open cell bars need plastic on them to prevent cell-to-cell spreading when guys stand at their cell bars and yell to other guys in other cells. Their airborne saliva transfers to neighboring cells of unmasked guys.
4. The TTY and Jpay video visit kiosks are where guys pull their masks off to talk while other guys stand in the area.
5. Porters are instructed to deliver ice and other things to unmasked guys locked in their cells, risking cross contamination.

WSRU and IMU administration, medical, and other staff have mismanaged the pandemic with flagrant negligence.

Good morning, 2021

Good morning, 2021

Good morning, 2021
Behold, a world reeling
Hearts left in utter ruin
In dire need of healing

An Eve spent in cheer
Masking the dismay
COVID lions roamed about
Dragging loved ones away

Good morning, 2021
I pray we arise anew
As 2020 sets, you rise
With hopes pinned 2U

May blessings be swift
And laughter replace tears
May homes be refreshed
In the dawn of New Year