By Gretchen Schuldt
Last week's heat wave added more miserable conditions to the carried by incarcerated people already struggling with limitations and hardships attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.
It hasn't been an air-conditioned holiday for staff, either.
The inmate testimonials below have been edited for length and clarity and to protect the writers' identities.
Intel on temperature...day rooms bottom tier 86.9°…. It is cruel and unusual punishment to both the staff and the inmates of the prisons having a sustained temperature so high, not to mention a extreme health hazard to already susceptible-healthed inmates.
Last few years we have had visitors collapse with heat shock in visitation! I have diabetes and heart and kidney diseases, and diabetics are not supposed to sweat profusely for extended periods due to how it crushes a person’s chemistry! Elderly are even more vulnerable with age- related issues that make them weaker to extreme temperatures! The environment is gunna continue to heat up for years to come. I have 8 months till my release and I ain’t trying to die here!
Now combine all this COVID shutdown and close quarters is making the situation more dangerous for staff and inmates. We get told people don’t have air conditioning at home, (but) homes ain’t made out of heat-conducting materials like steel and concrete in completely open spaces to absorb solar radiation all day, making it a furnace! This is a very serious issue that people need to know!
With the weather being so hot & humid, our ice machines run out quickly. This is partly due to self-centered selfish inmates filling pitchers and large bowls of ice. This is also partly because the ice machines are not designed for this many people. So once the machine runs out, within 20 minutes of being opened back up, we are supposed to get a bucket of ice. However, we are limited to 2 buckets per shift. Again, pitchers and large bowls are filled, leaving the older men and handicapped men with nothing. One of these men just had a heat stroke last night.
There are times staff refuse to even get the buckets out of the freezer in the servery. Its bad enough our rooms turn into sweat boxes and we can’t even prop the door open for just a little breeze, we can’t partly cover our windows to block out the blazing sun. With being under “modified movement” still we are still stuck in these death boxes for 21+ hours a day with no relief. A small fan blowing nothing but hot air does not help keep you cool. We have AT LEAST another week of this weather and August isn’t even here yet. Because of how hot it is guys are having issues sleeping. This heat and lack of sleep is also causing short tempers. Arguments are daily, I’ll guarantee you the fights will break out soon also. Extra ice, propping doors slightly open, opening the dayrooms and yards, these things will help quell the issues. When are we going back to a medium prison and away from the max?
Boy it's been hot!
And you’ve got all kinds of COs working doubles in this heat. Guess what? Makes some of them cranky. So any little bit gets exacerbated because they are hot and tired. Now they weaponize ice. Not putting it out. Or not unlocking the ice/water machine. Why? The COs don’t even have to touch it. Inmates do all the work. When the ice/water machine gets locked up it only takes 25 minutes to fill up. Use the buckets of ice then. Now let’s talk about the doors. Most of the time we crack them open a boot width (like from big toe to pinky toe). But sometimes you get a CO who is a hater and makes us keep them closed. And there response is “a white shirt told me to.” Which is more likely than not a lie. Further more in the past I’ve been told by white shirts we can keep them cracked a boot width. There is zero air with the door closed. It is absolutely miserable in the cells with out the door cracked. Try sleeping in your shed at night when it’s hot. Be sure to keep the door shut!
Here is a question: what can I do with the door cracked that I can’t do with the door shut? Nothing! This is just a way to be cruel. Especially if your cell faces west. Good God those suckers are hot! If its 90° outside (not mentioning 70 dew point) those cells are 120°. If anybody doesn’t believe me they can check any cell facing west on the front yard with a temperature gauge! I suppose we could get this fixed by working out in our cell until we fall out. Then we can say its too f---in' hot in the cells! Or one of the old guys will die. Oh yea...they get moved to HSU for the air conditioning. What a petty way to breed hate and discord in the prison!
Turn on the AC! Is it October yet?
I wanted to pass along some info about the COVID lockdown....It started on May 26th and was apparently caused by the PT that sees inmates here. She was here and met with two inmates on 5/22 and on the 26th those two inmates and there cellies were sent to Dodge for quarantine. Warden...put out a memo on the 26th instructing that all inmates wear masks when out of our rooms and that staff is supposed to wear them at all times when around inmates. Several staff members, including the superintendent...and both captains have been walking around and talking with staff and inmates without a mask.
I had a convo with (a captain) on Thursday the 28th. He was about two feet away and was not wearing a mask. When I made a comment regarding it, one of the sergeants that was standing nearby got in my face and screamed at me and actually dropped the line that we're all in this together.
The National Guard was here today testing all staff, including the staff and inmates. The superintendent was walking around without a mask. Today is also the first day in four days that we had a hot meal. Its been sandwiches and a salad since Wednesday night. Breakfast is cereal and white bread with pb&j and a juice.
On Friday, the superintendent led a tour around the facility and no one was wearing a mask. I don't believe these were DOC people because I never saw an ID, so I'm not sure who they were. We are not being allowed any type of rec or phone calls. People without tablets have not been permitted to use the kiosk to let their loved ones know what's happening....
I want to put an ICE in about staff not wearing masks and the lack of ability for proper hygiene as far as clean clothes. However, the captains and the superintendent like to threaten and intimidate anyone who makes any kind of complaint.
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