On January 23rd I took a Covid PCR test and, because of the absolute mismanagement of the Covid response in our prison, I tested “Covid Punitive.” I had been going to work, taking rapid tests to get in, for almost 2 weeks without incident (including the time of the PCR) and yesterday, my results were in… I was positive. I can remember a day last week of some sweats and a sore throat, but we had just had flu shots, so I assumed it was associated with that. So, in the prison’s terrible response to this, I was snatched from work, locked in my cell, told to pack everything I own in 15 minutes, chained and shackled, loaded up on a bus with 78 other positives, and taken to another prison without a clue what was happening to us.
There, I sat in a filthy cell where I could touch two walls at once, without anything to clean it with. It has open bars and all night I could hear others struggling to breathe, coughing and hacking. The “mattresses” we use are a pad about two inches thick on a hard metal tray bolted to the wall and it makes your arms numb in the night. We were told we will only have one chance to get out for a shower or a phone call — once a day. This prison is over 100 years old and this cellblock had been recently shut down. It’s disgusting. But it’s now the “Covid Isolation” unit. I’ve been stripped of everything — all the meager comforts I had — because it’s all now in storage (I hope) and get to deal with this 10-14 day knee in the back (or longer if people keep testing positive). Imagine if you had tested positive and had to pack up your home, hoped someone stored all of it, got harnessed like an animal and moved to some random, filthy house, halfway across town… and, like some here, do it all while you can hardly breathe.
There’s a logical, scientific, and humane way for this prison command to deal with sick people, but instead of seeing an opportunity for compassion, it’s a chance at kicking someone while they’re down. Everyone around here is terrified of the Covid tests. Not because of being ill, we can deal with that, but a Covid positive test result is really a Covid Punitive test result. If you think Covid can make you feel miserable, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…
“You’ve got three hots and a cot, the state provides everything you need!” I’ve heard people say that on TV, and I’ve received letters in which people have told me that. But that’s a delusional belief. Let me show you. Number one, the state of Florida doesn’t provide deodorant, which is an absolute necessity! They don’t provide shampoo, Q-tips to clean your ears, nor dental floss. I saw the dentist last week, and he said “Your teeth aren’t getting clean, what kind of toothpaste are you using?” I said” AMERFRESH, the state toothpaste.” He replied “That’s garbage, you need to buy some Colgate.” So if we’ve got a dentist telling us that the toothpaste isn’t working, you can’t argue that the state is providing us adequate hygiene items. The bar of soap that the state provides is about one third the size of a normal bar, and this soap doesn’t have a good scent. It’ll work, but it’s not something you would choose to use, and you only get one bar a week.
Three hots … well about 70% of the time, the food’s going to arrive cold, and is either under-cooked, or over-cooked. Very seldom is it prepared in the manner it should be. If you read the menu, you would be like, Sweet! But then the tray arrives and you’re looking at something that doesn’t resemble at all what you read on the menu. For instance, “Fresh Fruit.” You get an orange, but it’s nothing like a fresh orange that you would get on the street. Our orange is shriveled up, bruised with brown spots on it. It’s rare to have a nice piece of fresh fruit. The apples are horse apples, or cooking apples. We haven’t seen a banana in forever! That’s the only fruit that we get back here. Now vegetables are all canned, and most of the time overcooked. Meats — well a chicken leg quarter is the only real meat we get. We get that once a week, and I’m always highly disappointed when it comes back here raw. This week we were fortunate, it was cooked perfect! The prior two weeks it was raw. Even raw, it’s better than the soy patties, which are really bland. If you closed your eyes and ate it, it’s got no taste. And the the off-gray color is nauseating. They’ve got something called “Southern BBQ,” which sounds good, huh? Well you see, it’s ground up mystery meat that resembles hamburger, but doesn’t taste like it. And the BBQ sauce smells rancid! If you put that in front of most animals, they wouldn’t eat it. The sloppy Joe is the same. It doesn’t look like something you would see in your mom’s kitchen. Its an orange-ish color that looks like a baby messed its diaper. These meals are not healthy at all!
To really be able to eat well, you’ve got to be able to supplement the meals with canteen. And the items are overpriced. You get a $50 – $100 bag, and you’re standing there wondering where the money went! We pay 65¢ for a Ramen noodle soup that cost 19¢ or less on the street. Oh there’s some serious price-gouging going on. And if you don’t have family and friends to financially support you, then you go without. There’s no paying jobs for us. They ban us from selling our paintings, poetry etc., for financial gain. So they’re ripping off our family and friends who help us.
Your cot… I’ve slept outdoors on the ground, and been more comfortable. Seriously! The mattress is no more than an inch and a half thick, if that! Oh if you’ve got a new one, it’s nice for about six months. After laying on it every day, probably 20 hours a day, for 180 days, it gets flat and hard. The steel platform this thin mattress lays on is slanted in a manner which results in back, hip, and shoulder problems. There’s nothing comfortable about this mattress.
Yes.. three hots and a cot, you’re surviving. They’re giving you enough to keep you alive, but that’s about it. And most people will say that’s enough. Just wanted to give you a little bit of insight into our world, and the delusion that the state provides everything we need.
God bless you.