The Coronavirus as seen through the eyes of our Insiders

Part III: Let everyone know what’s happening in here . . . We’re scared

See also   Part I   Part II  Part IV   Part V   Part VI   Part VII   Part VIII   Part IX   Part X   Part XI  Part XII

Eric 4/3 (North Carolina)

Let all the news agencies you can, local and national as well as the ACLU, know what’s going on here:

We’ve all just been informed by staff that starting tomorrow all units here are losing access to computers, TV, laundry rooms, and on Monday will be allowed only one five-minute phone call per day. In order to recharge our mp3 players, there will be a schedule for opening the TV room to put them on charger or take them off, as well as a schedule to re-validate our mp3 players on the computer. All other functions on the computer will be terminated, including email. After 11:30 tonight we will no longer be able to send or receive emails to/from family, friends or news organizations. The same goes for TV, we will no longer be able to get any more news there either. Because this a low security facility, we’ve been ordered to stay in our cubes, not cells which have walls and doors, throughout the day, allowed to go only to the showers as long as there isn’t a line, and then back again. We’re not allowed to move around the unit at all throughout the day.

We are told that starting tomorrow this will be in effect for the next 14 days. The reason they’re doing this, we are told, is to effect as much social distancing as possible. The housing units here are an open dorm format. We have only five-foot-high walls between us with three men in 2/3 of all the cubes, two people in another 6th, and 1 person each in the last 6th of the cubes in just this, my own housing unit. There are eight total housing units here. We’re already crammed in the housing unit together with very limited space. By taking away the TV rooms, computer rooms, and laundry rooms, they are decreasing the amount of what little space we already have. We are told that this is a mid-Atlantic region of the BOP decision and does not affect all the lows in the BOP nationwide where the vast majority of the lows are open dorms. We are told that this region directed all their facilities to enact the procedures that are currently happening in Penitentiaries and Mediums simply because they are happening there. So because they’re doing it there, the lows should as well despite the fact that it’s not practical in a setting such as the federal low housing unit. We are already worried about what’s going on in the world and how our families are coping during this crisis and now we’ll be, essentially, in near communication blackout. We’re already stressed, and this is just adding to it. We’re scared. We don’t need any more pressure. Please let everyone know what’s happening in here, if this message even reaches you. I hope it does. Sorry for the errors, the lines for the computers are quite long so I’m typing as fast as I can and not doing much about errors.

We’ve also had commissary taken away as well for the next 14 days. This comes after we were given a $25 spending limit in the middle of this past week, after only half the complex had shopped with their full spending limit of $170 every two weeks, following a commissary shut down the week before due to semiannual inventory, where no one shopped. We were barely able to get the things we needed let alone the things we wanted before all this happens. Now we’re being told we won’t be able to shop again for another two weeks.

It’s also apparent that the staff here knew this whole thing would cause an uproar when they responded with riot gear to possibly violent “dissenting opinions” in another unit. Remember this is a low with a large contingent of elderly and sick.  From the looks of the four guys they took out of here, OC [capsicum/pepper] spray was used.

Please also contact the Raleigh News and Observer, Durham Morning Harold, and the Charlotte Observer for the major North Carolina news agencies, but also, the Washington Post and the New York Times and let them all know what’s happening here.

If something else comes up tonight before the comps are shut off, I’ll try to get it out, otherwise this should be my last email until the restrictions are lifted.

Editor’s note: The 14 days have expired, but as there has been no further communication from Eric, the assumption is that all of the restrictions are still in effect.

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    • #71771 Reply

      This is about correct. Our son is in low security and just had their 14 day total lockdown lifted, if you can call it that. All they can do is walk to get meals and come back, no outside recreation, no fresh air. If you look at the BOP Covid Update you can see how exponentially the virus is spreading in some prisons. This is very upsetting to all involved and really don’t know how to handle the anxiety.

    • #71780 Reply

      It is not surprising, that such practices are going on even in the Low Security or Minimum Security Level at ANY State or Federal Institution. What this sounds like to me is suspiciously akin to Paul McCarthy’s Song: ‘Live And Let Die’. I say this, because that is exactly, what ‘The Protocols’ of all these Institutions are engaging in. There is however; no amount of musical enjoyment any of those men can have, because what precious little that had left, is now gone. I won’t be surprised furthermore, if after The Pandemic is over, they continue such practices. Look, the bottom line once again is this as I see it: Federal and State Legislators all across the Nation, want to appease The General Public and show that they’re ‘Tough On Sex Offenders’, by literally dictating to The Bureau Of Prisons, to do as little as possible to enable anyone with a Conviction, especially Sex Offense Convictions, to survive this Horrible Virus. As for The So-Called ‘Justice’ Department, they’re literally in the same bed with The BOP. As for the So-Called Supreme Court? To me, they’re all just a bunch of Robed ‘Yes Men and Women’. Everybody knows that The Country is really run, by Not-So-Secret Wealthy Third Parties and Corporations, that don’t give a damn about Families that are Middle Income to Low Income. The Constitution today, is a complete Farce and an Equally Sick Joke as a Document! I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again and again. Until Sex Offender Registries and Laws are completely Obliterated, none of us on it, will ever be truly free!! There’s no such Thing as ‘Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness’ anymore, and never again will there ever be. And finally; Young Man, I hate to tell you this but The Media most likely won’t want to tell your Story, because it will affect their Ratings.
      And they can’t have that now…can they? Your Family on the other hand, while they still are Free Enough to do so, can!

    • #71788 Reply
      James Coghill

      Reading this story we have just crossed the line of sensibility. They are losing computers, TV, and laundry rooms. Is there something about computers that spreads the virus? Can’t you wipe down the keyboard? How does doing laundry spread the virus? How does talking on a phone for longer than 5 minutes spread the virus? Is the virus now being spread by MP3 Players? This is harrassment because there is no valid medical reason to do these things. The idiot who is thinking this stuff up should be ashamed of themselves because it’s transparent as hell. We see what you are doing!!! The purpose of these actions is to cut the inmates off from news about the outside world and the virus. I’m surprised they aren’t censoring mail as well. Somebody needs to look into that. So this poor fellow is being warehoused in barracks style accommodations. Never forget that this type of living arrangement turns the whole facility into a human petri dish. Then to be doing this now after it has been revealed that the computer model used to determine the severity of the outbreak was wrong is an opportunistic slap in the face.

    • #71789 Reply
      James Coghill

      “The Constitution is a complete farce.” I agree that’s why I have often referred to the US as a counterfeit country. It promises much but delivers little.

    • #71795 Reply

      Was anyone able to contact some of the news agencies Eric suggested, as well as ACLU?

      I always thought it was easier in a federal prison than a state prison, but certainly not in this case. My husband is in a state prison. They can go out for rec 45 minutes a day, get two meals a day, and have commissary delivered to them. They also have TV, email and phones. And that’s in a privately run state-owned prison. While I don’t know if they have any of those things in isolation, when they test positive for COVID-19, I pray any isolation bans are only for 14 days. And I pray my husband never tests positive, naturally.

      Thanks for sharing these with us. It helps to know what others are going through, even if we can’t intervene for them.

    • #71803 Reply

      I did my entire 10-year sentence at this prison, and Eric describes the living format (dorm-style, cubes with five-foot walls and no doors) precisely. But here’s where I take a different position…

      This is an enormous FCI complex with a camp, a low, 2 mediums, and a hospital (FMC). All compounds are adjoining, they all share staff, are assessed by the same visiting regional team, and receive deliveries from the same vendors…dramatically increasing the risks of exposure from the outside.

      As of today, the low where Eric lives has 12 reported cases. Two weeks ago, the adjacent medium compound had ~60 cases among inmates. Today, 212 have tested positive, with 6 deaths. Remember: staff, vendors, and visiting teams are shared among all 5 compounds.

      The new 14-day restrictions are harsh. The living conditions in this dorm-style atmosphere are tight, noisy, and dangerous. There are many elderly and health-compromised inmates. Permanently installed bunks are 4 feet away from your cellie’s, and the top bunk in the cube next door is inches from your locker below it. I know all that. I lived all that.

      But I support these restrictions – as inconvenient, frustrating, and unbearable as they seem. The alternative is to relax them, risk the spread of infection, and burden other inmates, staff, and the medical resources beyond capacity.

      Don’t let what happened at the medium happen at the low.

    • #71811 Reply
      Francis Crawford

      I was in prison in Michigan. 1st the intake reception for 21 days then sent to Parnall prison where were exposed to black mold, asbestos and lead paint for 11 months during that time the sewage from the chow hall was flowing into the basement of block 9. Thank God I was in block 10. I was then transferred to West shore line in Muskegon into 8 man cube’s in a polebarn. The ceilings were laden with abestoes. That camp was closed and then sent across the street to Brooks. A more modern facility into 2 man rooms. 15 months later to JCS. IN 8 MAN cubicles pole barns. That facility’s
      Ceiling tiles were the same as West shore line. The ventilation system is plugged by black mold. A 20″ exhaust duck had barely a 1/2″ inch hole the in house fans ran 24/7 for ventilation. The on-site prisoner maintenance had started to pull the exhaust pipe apart and saw the condition of the black mold in the pipe and refused to clean out the system due to being so bad. Complaints were made and the state inspectors only removed the inside ceiling grates and had the prisoners vacuum around the grate spreading dust All through the pole barns. The medical prison system is a farce just like the inspectors who was paid to deceive the public regarding the complaints. Prisoners are being charged$5.00 to visit the medical Dept. Prisoners are treated like Chatal. Michigan’s biggest money scam in corporate America. Many deserve prison for obvious reasons but not a death sentence for satisfying the class room instructors who look for any reason to kick you out of the class with out lifting a finger to help the unlearned and uneducated prisoners. While I was in prison we were subjected maggots at Parnall and mice and rat turds at JCS in the food supply. A couple of COs and one instructor cared for our souls as human beings. But afraid to say anything without losing their jobs. The self righteous Public opinion has labeled all prisoners as unfit for society and deserve what’s coming to them. Their day is coming judgement falls on the Just and the unjust! God is no respector of persons. But for the sake of the down cast their day of redemption is at hand. MDOC needs to be recond with and their day is coming. They could care less about
      Prisoners. Their god is the almighty dollar and don’t care how many lives they destroy as long as their pay check keeps coming in. I am glad and thank the Almighty God that I was released just before the deadly virus hit the prisons. They’re the death trap for many who don’t deserve a death sentence that the state of Michigan has handed out to many that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    • #71814 Reply
      Ms. K

      My loved one is at Terminal Island. God protect them all, as the government sure isn’t doing it.

    • #71820 Reply
      Tim A

      The prison system in Michigan has been corrupt since the Engler administration made it that way. That’s why I refer to it as the Mich Dept of Corruptions. Not Corrections)

    • #71852 Reply
      Adam S.

      So… people are complaining that prisons are doing their best to keep people from getting sick – and thus stay alive? Whining because of MP3 player batteries and such? Even as a former prisoner, this is just too much. You are in prison, and restricted from most things that free people can do, because you committed a crime. As long as they keep you safe, fed and housed, you are literally owed nothing else.

    • #71859 Reply
      Frank S.

      These conditions are abysmal and if someone was found living in the on the outside, social services would step in as quick as lightning!

      One hears of all these famous, respected businessmen or stars giving combined BILLIONs to fight this virus. When will the government officials understand that Trump has no idea of what is happening and start making informed, rational decisions? The BOP knows that they are killing people by implementing such cruel and stupid policies.
      It’s only a short matter of time before they begin to have to deal with major unrest and riots at many of their institutions. But then, since that kind of behavior only hurts and kills mostly inmates, what have they to lose except the funding per inmate head that falls. Of course I’m sure Trump would feel that as a bonus since the government wouldn’t have to pay it to the prison! It would also “prove to the public that they need to keep these violent, sociopath Sex Offenders locked away for good.

      OK! Now that my rant is over, I truly hope the loved ones of all of you can find themselves in a safe and decent place (I almost said caring, but having spent 6 years Fed. during the ‘regular’ times, that would be such a wrong choice of word.) Urge them to stay by themselves as much as is possible under the circumstances. If they don’t have any and have access to materials, encourage them to make their own mask and wear it at ALL times! If they can do a decent job of it, such activity would help to pass the time as well as protect them. They might even be able to start a little business with their dorm mates! (I’ve seen some pretty lousy made masks selling for over $6 out here so I’m certain they could probably do better with practice.)

      This is a time when it is vital that all inmates be civil and accepting. There is little that could be accomplished by violence against other inmates or the staff of their facilities. Everyone needs to do the best they can until there is a chance to make changes, but they will NOT happen quickly. If you have to ‘store’ your anger and the injustice being done to you and others, keep journals and written documentation (send it out as often as you can so it doesn’t ‘disappear’ during the next buck inspection, etc. While I’m not urging to lay down and let them walk all over you – do like NARSOL does- pick the battles you have the best chance of making a difference in.

      I saw a tee shirt at Walmart just this morning that said something to the effect – DON”T BOTHER – KARMA’S COMING AND WILL TAKE CARE OF IT!

      Until Karma arrives, as far as possible, stay safe, calm and focused on the ultimate goal – getting back outside with your loved ones.


    • #71864 Reply

      Anyone have any info on what conditions are like at Seagoville (low not the camp) ? I’m curious about Covid numbers and horrible issues related to that of course, but I’m also asking what the bunk/cell situations are like. What about prisoners who need to sleep with a CPAP device? Do they put them together in the same cell to not disturb others ? Thanks

    • #71879 Reply

      The BOP posts daily updates for COVID-19 stats in affected compounds.
      Today’s Seagoville FCI numbers:
      1 Inmate testing positive
      0 staff
      0 deaths


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