I am sending you this e-mail to inform you about the conditions in Columbia Correctional Institution’s Barracks.
I have been incarcerated since August 15, 2005. I have spent much of my incarceration at New Lisbon Correctional Correctional Institution, Red Granite Correctional Institution, and Oakhill Correctional Institution. At Oakhill, I was granted minimum community custody in May 2017 and eventually worked in a work release job for 17 months. I was transferred to Columbia Correctional Institution in August of 2019, and have been incarcerated in the barracks since my arrival. These 7+ months have been the hardest. I have developed multiple food allergies in the last 5 years and a specialized diet had been implemented, and developed over these past few years. Through trial and error, more and more foods were removed from my diet, as harmful foods were identified. Upon my arrival at CCI, all of this progress has been wiped out. Instead of implementing a menu that was prepared by a central office (Madison) dietician, which took the advise of a University of Wisconsin Allergist’s recommendations, along with DOC medial staff, at Oakhill, this facility seems to allow untrained individuals, (food service) to dictate what is placed on my menu. I have provided copies from my medical record, of reactions to foods that were on previous menu’s, and this facility, including the DOC Dietician, refuses to remove these foods from my menu. In addition, I have been provided cold cuts, that are not on my approved menu and I ate it, and developed an allergic reaction. I had to use my epi-pen, and this incident has been documented. This facility, by many of it’s departments, are just unwilling to do the right thing. Food service has been notified that I had an allergic reaction to these cold cuts and continue to serve them to me, and refusing to provide another meal. They have been told that the only authorized substitutions are with other foods from my approved menu. The menu is not the previously approved menu, and is not entirely safe but their are some foods that I can safely eat, but one of those foods is being replaced with these cold cuts. I have complained multiple times about my diet, and the inmate complaint process, seems to be complacent, and finds any technical reason to refuse and return a valid complaint, so that time limits can appear to expire. I have asserted violations of civil rights, and my fiancé, has made several attempts to help rectify these issues, only to have the Warden state that no one will be responding to her e-mails. Granted, my fiancé has authority to communicate with health services. I have signed an authorization for release of protected health information, authorizing two way communication, without limitations. We get no where. The general response that she receives is that I should advocate for myself and then inform her as to responses. In theory, that would be acceptable, however, I either get the run around, or deflect my questions to others, and many times, never get any response. We came up with the plan that she was to communicate via e-mail, so that their is no way that anyone could say that an issue was ever brought up because state workers emails are subject to open records laws. It is very convenient that serious issues of mistreatment or misconduct, do not get written responses and then my fiancé is told that no one will respond to her e-mails. That is the cancer of CCI.
I wanted to provide my personal experience to validate my concerns about CCI, and the ability of this facility to provide adequate health and safety against this covid19 virus. I have an underlining conditions, and am also on an immunosuppressant medication. The covid19 virus is in this facility, we received a notice of communicable disease on March 21, 2020, indicating that there has been a diagnosis at CCI. There have been NO urgency in providing any PPE. In the barracks, currently, we have NO hand soap, in the bathroom. We have an air exchanger that has not had filters in place throughout my entire time here. Above the exposed air ventilation, their is a massive amount of lint and dust, which has accumulated. We do not have the equipment to clean these areas, because it is to high and unless a vacuum is used, it would create an even more unsanitary place. Many of the disinfectant sprays are now water. They have been diluted and when they run low, we have to add water to what is in the bottle. It’s my understanding that we are issued only so many bottles, and it’s a hurdle to have them refilled with actual cleaners. This environment is already unsanitary, and we are in no way able to escape illnesses. If someone catches a cold, everyone will get it. Our bunks are spaced probably 2 feet apart. If the covid19 virus is introduced in this environment, it will surely cause much devastation! We don’t have the basics, to even do the minimal of keeping our hands clean with any soap, and surely we are not getting hand sanitizer.
Since I have asthma, I have asked for a face mask, to minimize my exposure. I have written health services, requesting that I be moved and questioned the appropriateness of being housed in this environment, when I am at an increased risk of having life threatening complications, if I am exposed to the covid19 virus. There has been at least one officer, who has been seen sneezing and coughing, without covering. There is a lot of anxiety, especially when there are reports, that in one day, there are 18 inmates at Waupun Correctional Institution whom are quarantined, because they have been exposed to the covid19 virus. 18 people in one day and it took weeks, before many counties had passed 18 infected individuals. There are many communities of 800, that don’t have one case of covid19, and one prison with a similar population, has 18 inmates and 11staff, that are potentially infected.
I am in fear! I am in fear that after serving almost 15 years on my sentence, and enduring all of these obstacles, enduring a facility that places my life at risk, by serving me food that I cannot eat, I fear that now, this virus may compromise my life, where an epi-pen, cannot help! I have 10 months left on my sentence and I fear that my poor choice, of getting involved in selling cocaine, may result in a death sentence! If I were released today, I wouldn’t be a financial burden on my loved ones. I would actually be able to help because I saved money while in work release. Currently, I can’t send family money, from my work release account. Policies and procedures prohibit that, at least at this facility. I’ve tried in the past, to pay for auto repairs on my daughter’s car, and was barred from doing so.