On March 21, 2020, inmates in CCI’S barracks (minimum custody) received a communicable disease notice, issued by the health services manager, Mrs. Lucinda Buchanan, indicating that an individual at CCI has been diagnosed as potentially having Covid 19 which can be transmitted by airborne, contact or droplet. They indicate that inmates are to refer to a disease fact sheet from the Wisconsin division of public health, however, this facility has not made a disease fact sheet available. This notice further indicates that if you identify yourself as being in one of the risk groups, or develop any of the symptoms as identified on the fact sheet you are to notify staff and request to see health services promptly.
There are multiple individuals here who have health issues such as diabetes and asthma and there is no PPE available to help curb a chance of getting Covid 19. There is a shortage on toilet paper, and the bathroom soap dispensers, have been continuously out of soap. Our living conditions are the worst, because we are not able to practice social distancing standards because the bunk beds are in such a confined space and are spaced about two feet apart. Many individuals in the barracks were at a work release site and were transferred here to complete an AODA Program and within months of release. A few guys here have been incarcerated for over 15 years on drug charges and are within months of being released. One guy has asthma, which places him into a category that if he does contract Covid 19, he might not make it to the few months he has left to serve on his 15 year sentence.
One thing that has occurred on March 21, 2020, is that CCI, has suspended administrative rules. This was a very vague memo, issued by Warden Novak. CCI, at this time has not allowed minimum security inmates, housed in the barracks, an opportunity to go outside, as we normally are able to. CCI is treating this suspension of administrative rules as a lockdown, which seems counter productive. Being able to go outside allows inmates to get fresh air and minimizes the congestion indoors. Instead, we are confined in close quarters. Barrack inmates are in a worst living situation than the maximum security inmates. Max security inmates are in a room, with only one other individual and are rarely in the same space as staff.
Right now, staff poses the main risk of introducing Covid 19 into this facility and in the absence of requiring staff to remain on these premises, after work hours, there is always going to be a chance that a staff member may contract Covid 19 and introduce it into the prison population. Staff are not wearing face mask or gloves, and on many occasions, recently, there have been officers who have been at their post, sneezing and coughing, in the same area that inmates are housed in the barracks.
Many inmates in the barracks at CCI, are in fear, that like when any other ailment infects these premises, that this Covid 19 will spread through this place like the common cold or flu does, but this Covid 19, will leave many deaths, in its wake. Its all over the news, the devastation that has occurred in Italy and in other places around the world. Any hope in surviving this will not come, being confined, in close quarters. We are only hopeful that this government, recognizes the impact that this virus has on everyone, and not discount the imprisoned population, because many of us have children, spouses, parents and siblings that need and want us, and are awaiting on our return to society, especially when we are so close.