I’m going to tell you a story, but first I would like to address the picture that goes with this blog
Everybody in church aint good
Everybody in jail aint bad
Everybody in your face aint your friend
Just think on that for a moment before we move on.
Jail is a complicated concept for me. I understand why we have prisons and why they are used. Certain people, Paedophiles, sex offenders, those who hurt old people and animals and the such should be sent to prison and should be treated with very little respect or care. That is my personal opinion and it’s a strong opinion.
But I also know people in prison due to crimes that took place due to, for example, exploitation and manipulation. I know young adults in prison now that were failed by us, the adults and professionals, as children, that led to consequences through their life that ultimately resulted in a prison sentence. I know children and young people in prison that found themselves in situations where they could not say no, through fear, and are now serving a sentence.
Don’t get it twisted. I am not suggesting that those in prison should not be there. But I think we can all agree that we have people in prison who should not be there for many reason.
So let say that some people do deserve to be there, in prison. Now…. when discussing this we can’t include any of the category I mentioned above (Paedophiles etc.). I am not including them in the story I am going to tell you.… we have prisoners that have committed crimes and do deserve to be in prison. They are people’s brothers and sisters, mother and farther. Peoples children. They are our people.
So get your coffee…. get cosy….and let me tell you the story of cell block Covid 19
Let me set the scene…. the year is 2020 and the world has been hit by a global pandemic. A virus they call…Covid 19. People wearing masks, social distancing and people in fear for their lives. It is bleak at times and people feel confused and scared. The news seems limited and almost as if you’re only being shown what they want to show you. (I know this sounds far-fetched, but stick with me)
A young man has been become caught up within the criminal justice system and arrives at a remand prison during this pandemic. He is confused to how he will be kept safe from Covid 19 within the prison system but knows he must trust in the system…well…. what other choice does he have really? The remand prison is for those awaiting trial/sentencing. He is informed on arrival that suspects will be placed in quarantine for a 2-week period prior to being placed on a wing. He breathes a sigh of relief at this, happy to know that despite having many of his rights taken away…. he will be protected from Covid 19 just like the rest of the world are. However, when he arrives at his cell, he finds that someone is also in the cell. He is told that isolation takes place with others. The young man feels confused about this. He has been watching all the news around social distancing. He looks around the cell, the size, the lack of ventilation and wonders how he can truly be quarantined when he is sharing a cell with someone else, someone who has arrived a few days before and could have been exposed to Covid at any point. He sits on the free bed and nods at his roommate. When the guard comes to collect him for yard time he wonders how the isolation will work. How they will share the yard space and social distance. Within seconds he realises that no social distancing takes place in the yard. People are able to walk free among each other. Once again the young man is confused as to why he is in two-week quarantine when every yard time he will be fully exposed to so many people, all entering the system at different times, all with their own level of exposure to Covid on the outside world.
He wonders, the young man, if maybe he is not worth protecting against Covid 19. If the general public know that prisoners are being treated like this and do not care.
Within days the young man becomes so anxious he can’t sleep. Guards flow freely from cell to cell. Pat downs are a regular occurrence. Guards touching prisoners all the time. Prisoners have no say in this and must conform even if they are vulnerable. He is scared that he will contract Covid 19.
Did I mention there is no hot water? No…well at one point there is no hot water to wash and keep clean.
He asks others of their experiences during Covid 19 and prison. Other prisoners tell him that since march there have been 23-hour lock down. Everyday.
On weekends there is always a day when the doors do not open…this is due to staff shortage,
Prisoners are offered free vitamin D tablets due to lack of light exposure. It’s like something out of a science fiction film the young man thinks.
Showers every other day. They cannot clean their bodies every day. The virus that the leaders of the world claim is killed with simple soap and water…. the prisoners are denied this.
No visits. No contact with parents, children, nothing
Their loved ones don’t know if they are sick with Covid. The don’t know if their loved ones are sick with Covid. They could be dead and no one would know.
1 FaceTime call per month, it lasts 30 minutes and connection is bad. Children distressed as they can’t speak to their mums or dads in prison on FaceTime for 30 minutes a month.
For a very short time in the summer period, visits were allowed but no touching and children left the visits screaming They stopped visits
And, in this story, after 8 months of lock down, finally prisoners are tested After mass testing the prisoners are allowed to continue mixing. Results come back. Some positive, Some negative.
The young man has been watching and listening to all this. He tells his mum when he can, but what can she do but listen. Then it’s his turn to be tested, He is nervous of the result. It comes back a few days later, in the morning, He hears the words…negative. He is shocked at how happy he actually feels and smiles his slow smile. And then, a few hours later his cellmate gets his result…. positive. His cell mate looks shook. A positive test, no matter who you are, will cause a bit of fear.
And the young man in our story waits to be moved away from his cellmate because you would not leave someone in a cell with another person who is positive would you? That would be cruel and unfair….
And he waits
And he stays. And he is left in the cell with the person who tested positive, He asks to be moved and no one listens. Why would they. Prison scum after all. And he tells his mum. And his mum says it will be fine and its ok
And then his mum has to sit in her house, waiting the TV blaring about social distancing and such knowing her child is in a small cell with someone who is positive.
What a story.
People end up in prison for many reasons. And some deserve to rot… in my opinion. But not the young man in this story. Or thousands of other people within the prison population. Hell, my own dad was in prison for many years.
Are we all just going to accept that our people in our prisons are being treated like this?
Is the question I would ask if this was not just a made up story….
Anyway, Lucky for us we do not live in saucily where such things would happen.