I Encourage You to Get Your COVID Vaccine

By Comrade Angel Unique

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

As a fellow prisoner and comrade, I encourage you to get your COVID-19 vaccine when you are allowed to do so. I did—two doses of Moderna. The way I see it, our captors shamelessly made no realistic attempts to protect us. None. But, now they are offering us a chance to protect ourselves, the communities our prisons are located in, our potential visitors … on the streets. The luxury of the option to get vaxxed or not is there, but for those of us inside, we each know our own conditions. There is simply no way—zero—we can ever hope to go somewhat back to normal programming without the benefit these vaccines guarantee!

About 90% to 95% effective at preventing hospitalization or death! Wow! Serious side effects are extremely rare … so, please. Get vaccinated. It’s the only way for prisoners. I send my love and solidarity by the stars above.

—Comrade Angel Unique 🙂 xoxo

LGBTQ Prison Testimonies: Dakota Rose in California

July 2020
Dakota Rose Austin
Kern Valley State Prison, California

Ms. Dakota Rose, a trans woman incarcerated in California, asks for help to stop the violence against LGBTQ people housed in the Sensitive Needs Yard, a place intended to keep them safe from homophobic and transphobic attacks. Various populations at risk of harm are placed there, not just LGBTQ people. For more information, see this resource written by currently and formerly incarcerated trans activists.

“My Cup of Tea”

To all of my incarcerated trans-sisters/brothers and non-binary identifying individuals, what’s Gucci! I am Dakota Rose, an incarcerated trans-woman, African Am. who was privileged to read my sis-in-solidarity, Fatima M. Shabazz’ submitted article regarding “transgender housing in prison.” Instinctively, I felt a sense of pride, compelled to interject my perspective and push for out (LGBTQ) advocacy, activism and overdue civil recourse.

Currently I am housed at Kern Valley State Prison, a max security level IV (180 design) SNY/NDO (sensitive needs yard/non-designated) in which a vast majority of the population are identified by CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] administration as STGs (security threat group/gang members). CDCR administrators, such as Sec. Scott Kernan in conjunction with C. Pfeiffer, K.V.S.P. warden, have knowingly condoned a perilous homophobic and transphobic culture, which has subsequently led to various hate crime acts of violence, discrimination, sexual harassment and assaults upon the LGBTQ population.

Continue reading “LGBTQ Prison Testimonies: Dakota Rose in California”

COVID Prison Testimonies: Clifford Smith in California, July 2020

July 8, 2020
Clifford Smith
Avenal State Prison, California

Hello there! : )

Greetings “again” from the inside society in central California … the forgotten society! 

Hope and pray all is OK and your day going well! : )  

Isn’t this virus something as it spreads across the world, states, cities, towns, prisons, etc. 

They moved a group of us over 60 to this building, so please note, new updated address : )  

Kind-of a “useless” move as we are still mixed in with the under 60 and not all over 60 moved, so they also mixed in with the under 60! 

The whole IDEA of move was to keep us over 60 safe from this virus! Not a whole lot of thought put into it … 

Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Clifford Smith in California, July 2020”

Hand Arthritis Tips

By Edwin Rivera

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

This idea stemmed from the arthritis I’ve now had for several years. I have it on different parts of my body, but I am focusing on the arthritis on my hands, which causes my fingers to lock. And believe you me, it hurts when I have to pry them back into place! Anyone with this condition knows all too well what I’m talking about. It’s mainly my ring finger and my right pinky. I started to do light finger curls every day and washing my hands with hot water.

Continue reading

COVID Prison Testimonies: Mark Kersey in Virginia, September 2020

September 17, 2020
Mark Kersey
Sussex I State Prison, Virginia

Dear Friends, 

I hope & pray this correspondence reaches and finds each of you experiencing well being, especially in light of these critical times that are hard to deal with. 

I am a fairly new subscriber to the “Prison Health News” which I am grateful to be a recipient of. The information contained in each issue is very informative. 

I would like to contribute to the cause of keeping the prisons of Virginia population informed on various health news. 

As of now Sussex I State Prison has had a major COVID-19 “outbreak.” I believe it started being contracted through the facility’s kitchen supervisors who passed it on to the offenders who work in the kitchen. 

Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Mark Kersey in Virginia, September 2020”

COVID-19 Updates: Delta Variant and Vaccinations

By Lily H-A

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

A newer variant of the COVID-19 virus called the delta variant, which is more than twice as contagious as earlier variants of the virus, is now the most common coronavirus variant in the US. Earlier in the summer, US cases had dropped to some of their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, but now the delta variant is driving new surges. In the US, Southern states are currently most affected. Hospitals in some heavy-hit areas have reached their capacity. Many states, after rolling back COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the summer, are putting some restrictions back in place. There have also been new lockdowns in some jails and prisons after outbreaks.

Based on data coming out so far, it seems like the currently available vaccines are still very good at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from the delta variant. The large majority of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are people who were not vaccinated, and spread of COVID-19 seems to be worse in communities with low vaccination rates. But, vaccines do seem to offer less protection from people getting milder cases of COVID-19 with the delta variant, and spreading it to others, than with earlier variants.

Continue reading

Managing Uncertainty

By Leo Cardez

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021From the new Department of Corrections leadership to politics and the coronavirus pandemic, inmates live in volatile times. In prison, all we know for sure is that we don’t know shit—we live off of rumor and conjecture. And that’s not good for us. The damage caused by our unpredictable circumstances causes havoc on every aspect of our being.

  • Activity increases in brain areas associated with fear and hypervigilance. Persistent uncertainty can alter the brain’s architecture and increase the long-term risk of depression and cognitive impairment.
  • It affects our body through a cascade of stress hormones released as part of the fightor-flight response, making us sweaty, dilating our pupils, quickening our breathing, and tensing our muscles.
  • It affects our thinking as we become more reluctant to take risks and less likely to focus on future rewards. Also, our perception of time changes: The present seems endless, and we feel cut off from the past and future.
  • It affects our feelings, creating unease. Research shows that waiting for sentencing generates more anxiety than the sentencing itself, which may bring a sense of relief. (I can attest, the year I spent waiting to be sentenced was the longest and hardest for me.)

Incarceration during this historic epidemic seems to hold more questions than answers: Will I or someone I love get sick? Are my job, school and cell, assignment secure? What do the election results mean to our shadow community—are there any criminal reform initiatives on the horizon? And when will my facility go back to normal—if at all?

Continue reading

COVID Prison Testimonies: Randy Wynn in federal prison, May 2020

May 7, 2020
Randy Wynn
United States Penitentiary Lompoc, California

As you can see, I am writing from USP Lompoc, CA. Because of the coronavirus, we have been in lockdown over six weeks. The first four weeks we were allowed a 10-minute shower, and the next day 20-minute phone calls. Then came the 24/7 lockdown with no showers or phone calls. We went 17 days without a shower. This week, one day 15-minute shower and the next day 15-minute phone calls. By 11 a.m. we have received all three meals. The cells are very very small, and I do have a celly [cellmate]. I can almost touch both walls at the same time. No room to walk or exercise. The food is not enough. Have not seen the sunshine in over six weeks. To top it off, I was very sick from March 24 to April 4, 2020. And when I said sick, I mean sick. Did not think I was going to make it. I am 60 years old. I see no end in sight. So my question to you is, how healthy is this for a 60 year old? I look forward to hearing from you ASAP please. Thank you for your time. Stay safe.

Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Randy Wynn in federal prison, May 2020”

COVID Prison Testimonies: “Coordinated Manslaughter” by C.S. Robledo, paralegal

May 6, 2021
by C.S. Robledo
Colorado Department of Corrections

The Colorado Department of Corrections presents a facade of honesty, integrity, and progressive agenda to the rest of the world, while simultaneously violating prisoner rights. During this pandemic, one prison in particular decided to handle COVID-19 in its own way. Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (AVCF) is an old prison in Ordway, Colorado. It is essentially in the middle of nowhere.

Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: “Coordinated Manslaughter” by C.S. Robledo, paralegal”

COVID Prison Testimonies: Scotty in California, June 2020

June 23, 2020

I am a “high risk” medical lifer (LWOP [life sentence without possibility of parole]) out here in the Central Valley of California at a joint called CSATF-SP at Corcoran. We have been on a modified lockdown since March 15, 2020, with “masks reusable” cloth types given on April 12, 2020. Most convicts comply with wearing them. However, when the staff (CO’s) refuse, it has caused issues, to say the least, with COVID-19 getting behind the prison walls. We all know the potential deadly link comes from the outside world. We (convicts) are threatened with RVR’s [rules violation reports] if we don’t comply with mandatory masks. The prison website is telling the world that hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are available, and that is not factual at all. Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Scotty in California, June 2020”