Taking Advantage of Covid-19

by Jay Goodman

The longer I’ve been here at my new prison, the more I see how they take advantage of this COVID-19. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of safety. I know that every prison had to set guidelines to protect the overall population. But they not only put new standards in place, they decided to do everything in their power to basically fuck over the entire prison system.

It seems like every place I get moved to they always want to say, it’s for safety reasons. Well, what does safety reasons have to do with not allowing us showers? Or feeding us? Or letting us use the phones? Every day over 20 prisons are let out of their cells to go to work in the kitchen. They are allowed to shower. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we are allowed to shower. But, why wouldn’t we be able to shower every day? On the days we do shower the guards open or cell doors and give us five minutes. Why would they allow that every day? Because we are locked down 24 hours a day, the guards are just coming in their office and sitting there all day. They don’t have to sit too, so why not allow us to stay clean?

Christmas Day, they open up each door and allowed us to make a call. Everything was easy, the guard let us use the phone, and there was plenty of time left over. So, why not allow us one call each day? It’s already bad enough we can’t have visitors, we haven’t been able to see your family in a year. On Christmas and New Year, they already showed us they could let every prisoner use the phone once. So why wouldn’t they have done it every day? I know prisoners who have lost their family members to Covid, and by cutting off all communication they weren’t able to say nothing to their loved ones. Please understand that I realize Covid affected everyone around our country. I get the warden here made his decision based off not only what was happening in the U.S., but what was happening in here. And if he felt that locking this prison down was what he needed to do, I respect that. But there is no reason not to allow us a call to our family each day. And all they had to do was let out one cell at a time. That is something else I really don’t understand about this prison system.

A lot of what I am talking about is common sense. All of these prisons are quick to start implementing special rules like they did when Covid started, but they lack any type of ability to use any common sense. It’s like giving us free calls, they did this because the prison system stopped all visits. Well, it sounds like they did this to help all the prisoners stay in contact with your family. Oh, and to make sure the inmates who don’t have any money can call home. But what good is giving us 500 minutes a month if we don’t get to use it? It goes back to what I was just talking about. Common sense. Just like they did Christmas and New Year’s Day, let one cell at a time out. And give everyone a chance to communicate with their family. Being locked down in our cells 24 hours a day really took a toll on everyone. Months and months went by, and we couldn’t even get these people to bring books around. Finally in February the warden started letting us come out of our cells for 30 minutes, three cells at a time. We barely had enough time to make a call and take a shower. He only allowed this Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The rest of the week we stayed in total lockdown. Now my question again. If he felt comfortable letting three cells out three times a week, why wasn’t we getting this every day? Like every place I’ve been before I got here. They will say for the safety of the institution we have implemented these new rules. But in all actuality, they have taken advantage of this COVID-19. By locking all of us down 24 hours a day, they can come into work and you basically nothing.

Whenever chow came, the guard would come out of their office, take the food cart tray and push it from door to door and hand each cell two plastic trays. It would take a total of 45 minutes. The guards really had it made. They came to work, and go to sleep. And truthfully that’s what most of them did. Oh, and don’t get sick. I have seen man with infected teeth, jaw and their eyes look like they got hit with a bat. Maybe if they got lucky someone would come by in a month. Why wouldn’t the medical department be coming by every day? They came to work, but like the guards and everyone else, they took full advantage of the situation.

At the beginning of each month the warden would send out a memo adding another 15 or 30 minutes of the time we were allowed out. By the middle of March, we started getting out around half of the day. Well, I guess that’s not exactly true. One day the bottom range would get out from 8:00 in the morning until 12:00. Send the top range would get out from 5:00 until 8:30. The next day they would switch it around.

Also, once we started coming out, it didn’t take long for my cellie to start using K-2. This freaking guy would smoke this trash and gets so blown out of his mind, that he couldn’t move.

Also, there is 128 men in just my cell block, and only six phones. So, when we came out of our cells, can you only imagine the chaos over the phones? The guards and administration saw the problem, but did they do anything to help the situation, of course not. Before long there was fights, then stabbings. Of course, administration would use this to walk the entire prison down again. Anyway, they can keep us behind the cell doors they did. And even though this place has been on lockdown for an entire year, no visits, no one going outside the fence. It’s flooded with drugs. But just like the United States Penitentiary next-door, it was easy to see the correction. Once a person does the time, I’ve done it’s easy to sit back and observe who is doing what. Prisoners as a whole are easy to read. They have a specific air about themselves that’s easy to read. And it’s the same with guards. They come to work at these prisons, and get caught up in the game of selling drugs and phones. And after a while they too will pick up prisoner mannerisms.

I used to wonder why a guard or someone in administration would want to do anything that would put them in prison? But like I’ve been saying. They really don’t have a lot to worry about. They usually only deal with the inmates who are never getting out. And these men are the shot callers, so if something happened, they will just kill the person they feel might be a problem. You know it’s crazy when I first realize this but it’s an absolute fact. It’s easier selling drugs in prison, then it is on the street. The guards don’t really have anything to worry about. I mean the police can’t just walk in here and do investigation. And the people that oversee the guards or administration are either friends with them, or they are involved in the criminal activity themselves. The way I’m looking at it is, if a person wants to sell drugs, their best bet is to get a job at a prison. Because you can sell drugs without the worry of getting busted in the streets. When people start flipping out on K-2, no one in administration or even the wardens we have, never seem to ask, where are the inmates getting this shit? One would think, that are wardens would be asking each other this question. No one is ever leaving this prison, no one is getting visits, so why is there a heroin, meth, weed, suboxone and K-2 in my prison? It’s either they are too stupid, or they don’t care because they’re getting a kickback.

As I watch the madness from my cell door each day, I can’t help but wonder how our government hasn’t started some kind of internal investigation throughout all of the federal Bureau of Prisons. Surely there is some kind of oversight committee in Washington that sees what’s going on.

In my next chapter I’ll break down the structure of how these prisoners run. And how the guards and administration use the different gangs to help them run the prison system. I ask myself all the time, how could a federal prison in the United States of America be allowed to operate like a criminal organization?

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez