#CagingCOVID: Stopping the Spread Behind Bars

While the world is trying to flatten the curve of a pandemic without end in sight, U.S. prisons and detention centers continue to be COVID-19 hotspots, warehousing millions and failing to make the substantial populations reductions needed to create conditions of social distance.

#CagingCOVID is a campaign to shine a light on mass incarceration in a time of a public health crisis, and apply pressure to use parole, clemency and decarceration at local and federal levels to stop the spread of the virus behind bars.

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His Whole Unit Was Infected

Dec 9, 2020 | by Laura Bratton

An inmate’s fiance talks about conditions in Nebraska State Penitentiary and where he’s located now – Tecumseh State Correctional. She says he’s afraid he’ll get COVID, given his age (60) and high blood pressure and the explosion of COVID cases in his former and current facilities.

Audio Submission By, Anonymous

Amended Transcription of Audio:

My fiance is in Nebraska. So he’s in Tecumseh. He was at NSP, the whole system, prison system, right now – and not just Nebraska, everywhere, all over the U.S. – has just massive Covid cases. This whole thing of social distancing, keep them six feet away. But yet that’s not really the cases in these prisons. Well, how do you, how do you remedy a situation like that?

You know, in the beginning it was just, “well, we don’t have any cases.” And he was at NSP, which is Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. When it first broke out, all these cases and stuff, there was no cases there. At that point, he was in a, it was like a dorm kind of, you know, so there’s just bunks after bunks after bunks. He even had some bleach that he would go and he would make sure everything was wiped down and, you know, they were wearing their mask.

And then as time went on, the cases started coming in. Obviously it had to have been brought in by staff members because they were the ones who tested positive and nobody’s really talking much about it. Next thing, you know, it’s now just full blown. I mean, they just got massive cases.

When they transferred him from NSP to Tecumseh, where he is now, he had just missed his whole unit was infected. Everybody had it. I said, man, you got lucky.

But now he’s at Tecumseh and he’s actually in a cell with another cellmate. They got these guys bumped up two to a cell in six by eights. He’s on the bottom tier; the top tier above them is all quarantined right now, all quarantine. There’s – I believe – 98 cases just in Tecumseh. He said, it’s so bad. He said, they’ve actually taken inmates that were in the hole, they’ve taken them out of the hole and putting the inmates that are testing positive in the hole. It’s like he says, I don’t have, we don’t, we’re not getting the cleaning stuff that we need, or at the very least, maybe staff should be doing that, but that’s not happening.

His biggest concern is that he’s going to get COVID. He’s worried about it. The thing is, he’s 60, he’s got high blood pressure. He worries a lot about that. A lot. And feeling like they’re not doing enough to keep things clean.

My fiance – he’s been locked down for – he’s been in for 20 years almost. He’ll be out in June. He gets out in June. People like that, people that have been locked up for a long time, they should be out there and, you know, just release them. I mean, they got a few months left. Start making room because there’s overcrowding really bad; you got COVID running rampant through there. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Do the same thing I’m doing. Make your voice heard. You know, speak up for these people because they really, a lot of these inmates don’t have people that can speak up for them.

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