Covid Lockdown, by Doug Howard

I was moved to Greensville Corr. Ctr. Jan. 31, 2020, my 12th transfer in more than two decades of incarceration. I was hoping to remain at my former location due to its closer proximity to my home in Lynchburg as my mother who is now 76 suffers from stage four lung cancer. Nottoway, my former location, although lacking in many respects, was much closer to home which would at the very least afford me the possibility of a future visit with my infirm mother if God would grant her health enough for this to transpire. This new location is over 170 miles from Lynchburg where my mother lives which means that even if she begins to feel some better the distance I am from home would prohibit a future visit. 170 plus miles from home one way is simply just too far for a cancer patient to travel.
In addition to this we face the devastation of the coronavirus. In many ways prison is the safest place one can be, however several Virginia prisons are reported to have the disease introduced to the inmate population by staff who entered with the disease. Of course that is the ONLY way the virus can get in, isn’t it? When the staff was first instructed to wear face coverings in the presence offenders there was some push back by some officers. I observed this first hand. It was only when inmates were provided face coverings and instructed to wear such outside of our cells is when all staff began wearing their face coverings consistently. This is when our out of cell time has been cut back considerably. At this prison I must remain locked in my cell with another person @ 20 hour per day. For those of you who have read my previous posts this is difficult for me as I have experienced severe beatings, attacks and a sexual assault by a cellmate in the past. I sleep little, experience anxiety, issues with PTSD and depression which is one of the reasons why there has been such a long time between posts. When I experience these issues I seem to loose myself in depression; I become lethargic. Life holds less meaning for me and I get less done. I procrastinate. I force myself to eat, to accomplish tasks, to do the most simple feets requires monumental energy! Being locked in this cell with a stranger 20 hours a day is quite debilitating. Unless my cellie is asleep I keep my shoes on. I do not lay down during the day. I make sure I am the first one up and the last one to try to sleep. With a cell mate I am in survival mode all of the time because I truly want to live through this experience. Due to the head trauma I have endured in past attacks I have periods of aphasia and petite mal seizures for which I am medicated. I am not sure how many more head traumas I can take thus I remain on the ready for any eventuality. This is a very stressful way to live to say the least. I dare not share this with my closest family as I wish not to worry them so I share this like a journal entry. I will say that I wish that, one way or another, this would just end.
I was interviewed for parole on the 11th of March. The possibility of this coming to an end and returning to my family, especially to my mother who is very sick, is very real. This was the second time a former parole officer actually interveived me; the interview I thought went well and the parole board responded to some of the letters family and friends wrote in support of my release. I have a place to be released to, a fact for which I am grateful and I was becoming quite hopeful when I heard Va. Sec. of Pub. Safety Brian Moran say that the parole board was seriously considering releasing older people with illnesses which this Covid 19 virus plagues the worst as I am diabetic, am a cardiac patient, have pre-cancer of the esophagus and have prostate cancer. I became VERY hopeful when it was announced that 95 parole grants were made for the month of March! On April 3 I was summonsed to the counselors office to be given my parole rejection notice which was incidentally dated March 31. I suppose I’m not sick enough to be releasee. One of the reasons for the rejection was that the parole board considers me to be a threat to the community due to my crimes. My mother was devastated by the news that the board rejected my request for release. No matter what happens, DOC must release me on mandatory parole in November of 2022, however release then will mean a great deal less if my mother is not there to enjoy it with me. For the mothers who may read this, only you can know what it would mean to you to have your son with you during your last months as you battle cancer.
Heavenly Father, may you comfort all those affected by this virus, in and out of confinement, as we endeavor to live life for your your Glory. Grant guidance, protection, and direction to government officials, medical personnel and all those in authority as they continue to battle this unseen enemy. Bless specifically my mother who struggles with several forms of cancer; give her healing peace and comfort during this difficult time. Thank you that she has a loving daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren around her constantly to take care of her. It is in Jesus Name I pray, Aman.

Douglas Howard
DOC #1051074

Categories: COVID-19, Douglas Howard

3 replies »

  1. I am crying my way through your blog. I sent you a long letter and just got it back bc there were too many pages. I will resend.


  2. This breaks my heart. I truly hope your mother will be able to hang on long enough to see her son again. My mother passed while my brother was incarcerated. He was only able to see her twice in the previous 20 years before she died because he was in another state. That was a difficult message to speak with him about over the phone.

    Liked by 1 person

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