The Four P's Pandemic Prison Paradox Paranoia
Today several community members asked for permission to be excused from the Community Morning meeting, while the ebullient Mr. Busha tells me the reason for the global microchip shortage is the Covid-19 vaccine? After being shackled on a bus with twenty other prisoners from Thomson Illinois. I arrived at the United states Penitentiary at Canaan in August of 2020 at the height of the summer surge. Befuddled I was asking why were we being transferred during a global pandemic, to a prison which at that date had only three recorded cases of covid-19. My price of admission a PCR test, starring an eight inch swab which when being inserted in my nose felt as if it was touching my brain. This was my fourth test in three weeks in quarantine. This one was the rapid antigen version, after a negative result I was expeditiously shuttled to quarantine. The quarantine conditions of confinement were deplorable, and mentally debilitating to say the least. Seventeen days of 24-hour lockdown, no phone, no pen, no paper, no stamps. Executive staff reluctantly toured the unit after asking the chief psychologist for a phone call or pen, and paper to contact me family I was told" That Covid was spreading via phone, and mail." Incredulous? Throughout that seventeen day period I saw hundreds of prisoners arrive, and leave Canaan. After my fifth-PCR test in five weeks I was cleared for population. The BOP implemented a staggered phase-plan which was predicated on modified-lockdown(20 hours in the cell per day), no visiting no outdoor recreation? Congregate living has proven to be conducive in the rapid spread of covid, while we were focused on wiping surfaces covid crippled this prison. Due to the surge we were summarily placed on lockdown November 22, 2020. This lockdown lasted for a month, on several occasions I witnessed prisoners leave this unit I assumed they were headed to the quarantine unit.Begining in late December we were allowed to come out 1 tier at a time. When a cough was heard the sense of dread was palpable, due to the punitive conditions in quarantine several prisoners were scared to report symptoms. The Warden at the Institution denied every application of "Compassionate Release" At this facility(throughout the entirety of the pandemic the BOP only approved 36 applications out of thousands). The Second Circuit found the "Conditions of Confinement" during this time warranted "extraordinary and compelling circumstances "which was a pre-requisite for compassionate release. Three months ago this prison received the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine and began to offer it to immunocompromised prisoners who were given the first option. By that time hundreds of prisoners had been infected, yet correctional officers were never mandated to get vaccinated? Yesterday a group of fellow prisoners received the second shot of the Moderna vaccine, and were unable to get out of the bed for Morning Meeting due to its after effects(I am in a residential cognitive behavioral program) My name is Khalid, and I am fully vaccinated taking the shot during my 18th consecutive Ramadan in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. Cynicism, blatant anti-government distrust, linger and thrive in this environment. My father is fully vaccinated yet I'm unable to get a contact-visit while the staff gallivants around the compound mask less, and unvaccinated. The mandate of "safety&security" is utterly disingenuous if the was the Bureaus objective the officers would have been mandated to be vaccinated, and a moratorium would have been placed on transfers during the height of a worldwide pandemic. We are on the way to Herd-Immunity 67% of the prisoners here are vaccinated, and it wouldn't take much to gain 100% The BOP mission statement doesn't believe in The incentive driven process. One of the biggest "Vaccine Hesitators " In the unit said he would take the shot for 100-extra phone minutes. One of the younger Muslim brothers said he would take it for an additional 6-months halfway house. Mr. "I Don't Want My Name Mentioned in This Article" said if they offered video visitation he would take it due to the fact he hasn't seen his mom in eleven years. Mr. So&So is an avowed anti-vaxir?
Throughout the tumultuous 2020 election cycle which was exacerbated by this so-called "Racial Reckoning" prisoners have persevered with sheer determination and grit. This pandemic has highlighted structural inequities and redefined what is normal. Yet the BOP continues to thrive lack of oversight and transparency cause this malfeasance to be overlooked. With a $7 billion dollar budget, 153,000 prisoners, and 36,000 employees at 122 institutions a glacial response time led to hundreds of casualties, and thousands of infections. This was a harrowing experience, and it is far from over. I would like to ask a question; If the 153,000 prisoners were enfranchised with the right to vote would the Congressional policy of "See no Evil Hear no Evil" continue in regard to the BOP's ineptitude?