Part VIII: “In case I die”
Jesse (Oakdale Federal Prison, Oakdale, LA)
4/26 Everything is chaotic here. The staff and inmates have no clue what’s happening or what to do. We watch as person after person is carried away on a stretcher or sent off to a quarantine unit. We’re all scared for our health, for our friends and family. We try to ask questions about the illness, why are some people being sent to quarantine and others not, what will happen to us, etc, but no one will answer our questions. Everyone, staff and inmates, are stressed and exhausted dealing with something that seems to only get worse every day and has no end in sight.
4/27 I get up at 5 a.m. to get ready for work in the kitchen. After our temperature is checked, we get escorted to work, serving over 3,000 meals a day with a fraction of our normal staff. We work non-stop until we leave exhausted at 3:30 for count. After count we have one-to-two hours to shower, eat, call home, and use the computer before we’re locked in our cells. We’re usually asleep as soon as count clears so we can be ready for another day of work in the morning.
4/28 A poem to my mom
There’s something I want to say before it comes to take my life away.
I’m sorry this is the place I ended up in, and now it looks like I’m going to hurt you once again.
You thought my time was almost through and that I’d get to come home to you.
But Covid came to jail and went cell to cell.
The guards say they’ll protect me but I know it’s a lie, so this my last letter in case I die.
What else is there for me to say; my mistake threw my life away.
I never feared this place with its locks, chains and gates or a society that only looks upon me with hate.
But a little virus shakes me to the core, and it’s you that my heart fears for.
If it gets me, know that I love you and please don’t cry. This is my last letter in case I die.
It’s lights out and I have to go. Whatever happens I want you to know
You’re the greatest mom, and to stay healthy I promise I’ll try, but this is my last letter in case I die.