Well this has been an interesting few months in regards to Covid-19. This crap has completely shut down this prison. Faribault (MN) prison has well over 200 cases, with two dead and still spreading. The prison is doing nothing to protect us except locking us down. Not only are we prisoners of the system, and some our own minds, but now we are prisoners of a spreading virus. Individuals like myself live in fear every day because the right to protect yourself from this virus has been taken away from us and put in the hands of an administration that not only has no clue what to do but refuses to adequately utilize the tools and/or options they do have. Here’s an example, Minnesota has implemented a conditional medical release program (CMR). A little history, this program has always existed you just had to be on your deathbed to get it approved and when someone would receive such a MERCIFUL RELEASE it wasn’t because we were viewed as a human being, it was because the prison system doesn’t want to be responsible for the cost of care involved.
Currently they claim to have expanded CMR in order to release inmates that are at a greater risk of having complications from covid-19. In approximately 3 months they have released just over a 100 inmates out of over 10,000. In contrast Wisconsin has over 20,000 inmates and over a month ago (so I’m sure the number is higher now) they released 1500 inmates. I personally have 3 of the top 5 pre-existing conditions that can lead to complications and/or death from covid-19 (Asthma, Prediabetic and Obesity. I’m 6′ 3″ 315# I may carry my weight well but I am considered over- weight by about 100#) yet here I sit in an over crowded prison where even my right to protect myself has been stripped away.
Another option they could implement would be to release anyone under a year. Instead they are only releasing individuals under 90 days and you can’t have a violent crime. Let’s break that down a moment, anyone with a truly violent crime, if they are under 90 days, I guarantee you they have already served many years on their sentence. So, if the DOC’s logic is to say a person is too violent to release 90 days early then they sure as hell are still going to be too violent to release after they have served the remaining 90 days on their sentence.
Here is another example of how not only the DOC is failing but our system as a whole is. I have a cellmate or “celli” for short. He is in on a 5th degree drug charge (this is the lowest of degrees) for having methamphetamine residue in a baggie. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. He is not a violent offender under 90 days. He has been trying to get released but the process takes so long he will reach his release date in three weeks before he even gets an answer.
At the very least they should be releasing anyone under a year and putting anyone with underlying health conditions in a single cell (at least that would give us some power back and give us the option of hiding in our cells safely). Instead they continue to gamble with our lives with the hope that if they wait long enough this will all go away or they will find a cure. Kinda sounds like Trump doesn’t it!!!
I understand that some of their lack of action is being born out of fear and the DOC doesn’t want to respond in a knee jerk reaction kind of way or act too drastically with something they don’t fully understand, however, they need to get off their asses and get something more tangible done before more people die.
Now I would like to address the few things they are doing.
1) They are testing staff and inmates
2) Questioning staff and temperature checks before entering the facilities
3) They have eliminated all interaction between all units and have separated each unit to only allow half the unit to interact with each other.
These are fallacies and pacifiers.
#1 and #2 are true but if #3 isn’t being truly followed then it defeats the purpose.
We still have different C/O’s working in our units every day, some of whom have been working in contaminated units or worse just got done sitting in the hospital with a dying inmate and coming to work the next day. No temperature checks or screening is going to stop that. This info comes directly from a C/O.
Next, we still have a laundry worker going between units and in the unit we still have both the C/O’s and unit janitor’s interacting with both sides of the unit.
There are answers to all of this. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination…just try talking to the inmates!
If I get Covide-19 I will likely pass, so let this stand as my testimony that the DOC is failing to protect me and thousands of others from Covide-19.
In the meantime, as long as I am healthy, there will be more to come!!
Faribault Prison, Faribault MN.