Letter From Inside An Arizona Prison During The COVID-19 Pandemic
The following letter was written by a person living in an Arizona state prison. The ACLU of Arizona is sharing the letter with permission from the author’s family.
“At a very chaotic time in our lives across the world its easy to feel helpless and hopeless. Let’s face it, we’ve never been in a situation like the one we are all in today. Not only us as Americans, the entire world is facing something that no one on this planet has faced. The outcome is unknown and very scary at times.
As we as prisoners sit in wait for the worst to come as this invisible enemy gains ground and creeps toward the fences, ready to engulf the prison grounds, we can only hope the impact will not be catastrophic. The little amount of precautionary measures being taken will never come close to what they should or could be. However, we as prisoners are doing as much as we are allowed within policies created by the powers that be to ensure that we minimize the blow. Fact is it’ll never be enough to withstand this virus, it will absolutely devestate the population across the state if it infects a staff member, administrator, contract worker, or prisoner.
The truth is that social distancing is non existent in a prison setting. Buildings hold up to 125 inmates per run, 200+ per building. Huts up to 14 inmates with a partition wall seperating each individual. Cells up to 2 per with a bunk bed distance of seperation. Chow halls still being filled to capacity, restrooms shared by countless numbers of prisoners throughout the day on the open yards. Store lines and medical lines also have the ability to spread the virus due to being in close proximity of each other. In this setting there is no possible way to stop this from infecting and affecting the prison population.
Another factor in this matter is that if and when the virus takes control of these prisons, Medical facilities are understaffed. There’s absolutely no way they could handle a crisis such as what they are dealing with across the globe. As it is they are unable to properly deal with the issues they face on a day to day basis. There just isn’t enough manpower to take care of this problem. There is a huge risk to lives being lost across the board. Not only prisoners, but staff as well.
It will present many more problems for the prisons than just people becoming sick and possibly dying. It will also create a hysteria that will effect the safety of not only prisoners but staff as well. It will become a great suffering to everyone.
Regardless of the things we’ve done in our pasts we are still human beings. We breathe the same air. We have hearts and the ability to feel and love the same way anyone else does. We understand the things we’ve done and the hearts we’ve broken. Because we are prisoners doesn’t mean ours aren’t broken as well. There are too many sick and elderly men and women incarcerated in our prison system. There are too many staff members who come and go from the prison into the public with not only the possibility of infecting us but also their loved ones at home. Without the proper medical staffing, conditions of our prisons, the lack of nutrition, many with mental health problems and the fact that social distancing is impossible the coming days will be a confusing challenge for us all. We have no ability to isolate to even try and slow the spread of this virus. If one prisoner is infected we are all infected. Many will not have the strength to pull through, unfortunately many lives will be lost.
You have the ability to create change here for us and possibly save many lives from prisoner to staff even their loved ones at home. Open your hearts and speak up for us all. We are the voiceless, with the inability to speak our concerns. There is no way for us to talk to senators or legislators, directors or governors. Facts are facts and they are being overlooked We are asking for a hand in this as our voices fall on deaf ears. We are asking for you to advocate for us in this desperate time in our lives. We are just as scared and confused as anyone in the world.
Chances are, in the State of Arizona you have a family member or friend who is or has been incarcerated at one point in time. That being said you understand what we are going through, have been through and will continue to go through. Lives are at stake, not just a few there are thousands who stand the chance of becoming infected with Corona Virus and dying.
Become the voice for the voiceless and help advocated for the sick and elderly to make it home safely where the odds of being infected decrease which will also create a lesser population so that the chances are better for each of us to stand a chance to social distance and keep this from becoming a war zone.
Each one of us appreciates anything anyone is willing to do to help us change the course of our lives. We aren’t asking for the state to allow us all out, just the ones who are sick with pure existing conditions. They weak and vulnerable, The ones with out the strength to pull out of this on their own.
Thank You for your time and compassion for human life we greatly appreciate your time and efforts.”