Hello all FOX LAKE IWOC contacts!
This is our First Issue of the Fox Lake Reporter!. This issue will cover submissions we had lately, but still trying to keep it current. We hope to keep other issues current. If you have something to add to the future newsletters it would be most helpful. The more ‘news from inside’ we get, the better. The IWOC network has been growing; the guidelines below will help us respond efficiently, especially if you plan to send in something for the next newsletter
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My name is Ron Kaufman, I am a inmate at Fox Lake Correctional. With all this COVID-19 virus outbreak going on and the unknown & uncertainties that come along with it, it leaves those of us trapped in here with ALOT of worries and fear. Not just for our own health in here, but for our loved ones out there!! With no visits being allowed where we had 3 hours to talk and see our families 3 times a week, and limited phones determined by each institution, I think we should be allowed & offered video face time on our tablets, and have photos on our tablets like other states allow at their institutions. Doesn’t make sense to me why we can’t?
We only are allowed 5 calls a day and the new phone system we have, our calls get disconnected constantly due to a technical error on the phone service’s fault, not ours and even if we only talked 2 minutes and it disconnects on us, it still counts as one of our limited calls and don’t get it over. This is really frustrating when we have to stand in line for an hour or better sometimes just to get on a phone! With the money made from us and our families, there should be no reason or excuse for only having 2 phones on each wing, same for the kiosk’s. We have to alternate every other day between 4 separate wings on each unit.
Madison keeps talking about letting out non violent offenders, but what about those of us who do have a violent case?? We weren’t given a Death sentence, and that is what it feels like being left in here with the threat of COVID-19 getting in here and spreading like wildfire.. What do we do??
QUARANTINE AT FOX LAKE by KS
I was awakened at 7:45 am on Sunday May 24 and told by a Lieutenant that I had been in contact with a person who had tested positive for Covid-19. He would not say who it was but it became obvious that the physical therapist was the one thing the dozen or so of us who were quarantined that morning had in common.
I was told to pack my property and report to unit 8 – the Restricted Housing Unit. We were housed in the lower RHU along with several people who had gone on medical trips or had transferred in from Green Bay. All cells had a single occupant. No doubling but I don’t know whether they would have or not if more cells were needed.
We were told we were in general population status and allowed to have all of our property except for our razors. (“Available upon request” but some Sgts. refused to let us have them.) They went through all of our property before we received it. Everyone had received it by lunch time.
There was no WiFi although one of the swampers took the tablets to Unit 7 a few times a week to sync them up for sending and receiving email, downloading movies etc.
They run extension cords into the cells. There are no coaxial outlets so the television and radio reception is extremely poor. Worse in the cells on the east side. I only got 7 channels with a digital antenna; 47.1-4 and the 21.1-3. If you don’t have one a pencil stuck into the end of your coaxial cable will work reasonably well. The property Sgt. did make a fairly successful effort to find radios or antennas for those who did not have them. The radio reception was better but still very limited. NPR on 90.7 was the only news I could get until I found a spot several days in were my 21 PBS came in; however sporadically.
The cell doors stayed open and we were able to go outside on a fenced in patch of grass between 1:00 and 3:00 until the 27th when Meisner took over as Warden. He suspended administrative rules on May 23rd. (In truth I believe the secretary did that but he put his name on it.) The RHU Cpt. gave us the good news bad news routine. “Good news is we are going to test you all so you’ll be out earlier than 14 days. Bad news is there will no longer be rec. No going outside. Your doors will be locked unless you need to use the phone, microwave, get ice or shower.” (They were pretty good about opening our doors when we asked. No one was ever told no as far as I know unless the phone etc. was being used. They would open the door as soon as the phone became available. )
The prison has enough tests according to the Cpt. but the Health Services Unit decided for some reason not to use them. They never did test anyone in lower RHU before we were sent back to population after our 14 days. Our temperature was taken by a nurse every morning. None of us showed any symptoms. But it is widely reported that one can be non-symptomatic and still be both positive and contagious.
According to the Security Director every one was supposed to return to the cell they were in before Quarantine. However it appears a Cpt. used the opportunity to move some one he had expressed irritation with. (Having to move is a notoriously stressful event. It is no different for prisoners – often more so. ) That person chose not to comment other than to say it could have been a coincidence but if not he hopes some professionalism will prevail in the future.
TESTING BY THE NATIONAL GUARD KS
On Tuesday June 9th the National Guard tested everyone; Staff and prisoner alike for Covid-19. They went unit to unit with maybe 10 people in PPE and a retinue of White shirts. As of June 16 none of the tests came back positive. There are reports that a few tests were inconclusive. Those people were retested on the 15th according to one of the men who had to be retested. He reports there were 4 others being retested with him. He does not have any symptoms.
ON-GOING USE OF RESTRICTED HOUSING FOR QUARANTINE. KS
There are still people who are quarantined in RHU. Some because they just transferred here. Others because they have to leave the prison for medical trips. They are quarantined for 14 days. One prisoner spends two of every six weeks in quarantine because of a medical condition requiring regular medical trips. A test would cut that down to three days. Instead he is asked by the H.S.U. manager if he wants to refuse treatment each time his scheduled appointment arrives. Of course he cannot.
PERFUNCTORY PRECAUTIONS KS
It was arguably careless to have the Physical therapist who tested positive for Covid-19 going from prison to prison – There are known positive cases at Waupun. I do not know on whose volition that occurred. But that therapist was to my experience, very diligent about sanitation, wearing a mask and sterilizing the medical equipment in the P.T room between patients. It seems likely that that is one significant reason none of her patients appear to have contracted Covid-19. (Two employees say the Physical Therapist has recovered but I don’t have confirmation.)
Sadly that diligence is not common among DOC employees. I know of only a handful of non-medical staff who wear masks. And the H.S.U. manager, Candice Whitman, still does not require that doctors and nurses wear masks when working with patients. Many do. Many do not.
The Warden implemented some policies for prisoners; mandating that we remain 6ft. apart in the chow line with only 4 people per table at tables which had accommodated 8. No giving other prisoners food you aren’t going to eat. No salt or pepper as the shakers are thought to be a means of cross contamination. Warden Hepp reduced recreation and library access by to ostensibly prevent the spread from unit to unit but unit to unit transfers are still occurring regularly so those measures are all but cosmetic.
All tolled hardship for prisoners who don’t have much to begin with. And most while pretending to be precautionary are undermined as described and/or not very effective if at all.
One problem; Two people who are crammed into one cell because of overcrowding cannot get more than a few feet away from one another. Yet prisoners are told when they leave that cell and enter the chow hall to stand 6ft. away from one another. Moreover, the door they must go through is flanked by staff who do not wear masks and do not maintain social distancing. The monitor is often less than three feet away as he tells prisoners face to face where they should sit.
As visits have been cancelled since March; a painful but understandable measure, the only way that Covid can get into the prison is if staff bring it in yet none of them are required to wear masks. And very few do so. There are now more officers in each unit because with much of the prison shut down and recreation and library reduced they have nothing to do. So prisoners are now in contact with more staff than they ordinarily would be. Twice as many in fact.
There is also the absurd spectacle of guards yelling – beside and over prisoners and their food – without masks, for prisoners to stay 6ft apart and not to pass food to one another.
Again, there are no prisoners with Covid-19 at Fox Lake. The only way it can come in is through staff. Staff who are not taking basic common sense precautions. Once it gets inside the prison there is little prisoners can do to protect themselves with the overcrowding which the WDOC has failed to address for over thirty years. It is still not seriously trying to ease overcrowding despite Evers’ campaign promise to do so.
The man who is required, because of serious health issues, to quarantine two of every six weeks has 15 months remaining of a nine year sentence for a non violent crime. A stellar prison record. If he isn’t a candidate for release then there are none.
The appearance of precaution is what officials seem to be interested in. But actual common sense precautions to protect the health and safety of prisoners are apparently taking a back seat to the comfort and convenience of staff and political expediency. When asked, officers say that masks and social distancing are not mandated by DOC Secretary Kevin Carr.
My question is “why not?” Some of Wisconsin’s prisons have not had the large out breaks seen elsewhere. Officials will likely attribute that to the precautions I’ve described but I submit that it is largely dumb luck given the facts. And unless staff are required to use PPE and maintain distancing where possible that luck is likely to run out. Once again it will be the poor and powerless who pay the price. That seems to have become the Great American theme.
PRINCE RASHADA (180031)
Pearls 4 Caged Angels
♥Dear Beautiful Comrades in Pain, when the sun often hide it’s warm light behind the clouds, know that deep inside your souls lie the real sunshine. Even when it rains, I know that they are really your soft tears cascading against my black skin, purifying my soul as I hear your voices echoing inside the storm… See when I couldn’t hear God’s voice, I heard yours screaming through brick walls… So I pray towards the east with palms up, pleading for your safety as you fall asleep just to dream to escape the bittered abnormalities of prison life… I’ve always wondered about the constant hell you must face being abandoned queens chained up inside administrative dungeons, where your beauty could never be tarnished by the cruel silence of time or the bitter debris of doing time…