It's hard to be in prison at any time and harder still when the small niceties – a phone call, a turn outdoors – are taken away during a pandemic battle.
The testimonials below have been edited for length, clarity and to protect the writers' identities.
I want to bring awareness to the new phone restrictions....This is for my floor and my floor only. Now, on A3 my current housing unit is being restricted to one 20-minute phone slot after 4 p.m. No other housing unit has to abide by this rule. The floor as a whole is being punished due to a few select inmates with no regard and no respect to others. There are more appropriate ways to handle this situation. Like consequences for the individuals that are abusing the phones.
We already lost our visitation with our families and friends with one substitute video visitation
or other forms of communication. Many of us housed here are Mothers and remaining a constant in our children's life is very important. I have two children ages 4 and 9. They are both in 2 different households. I can't call them until after 6 p.m. due to their fathers work schedule.
With this new rule? I am forced to pick and choose each night which one I can call and say goodnight to! That is absurd. I should be able to call both of my children to say goodnight just like anyone else in this institution. We have a memo posted from less than a month ago stating how they are looking into other ways of communication due to the visits being cancelled at this time. This proves to be the complete opposite of that!
I received a minor conduct report for disobeying orders, due to another inmate permitting me to share a phone call conversation with a mutual friend, and I was given a disposition of 40 days loss of phone. I was never given a verbal warning, a written warning, a reprimand or a previous minor conduct report for disobeying orders related to phone use.
Nearly five months ago, (the institution) created an unreasonable pre-COVID-19 pandemic policy, which was originally meant to allow everyone access to the phone by limiting phone use to five calls a day per inmate due to some inmates monopolizing the phone. The policy never addressed the reality of an inmate permitting another inmate to use his phone time, especially during this National State of Emergency. (The institution) never attempted to relax on this policy due to COVID-19, but instead chose to continue this unjust policy in limiting our access to our families, friends and loved ones.
This had caused further fear and panic, and the attitude of (the institution) is to penalize us for desperately reaching out to our families on other inmates' phone time who doesn't even want to use the phone or want to share their phone time.
(The institution) is severely punishing inmates with 30-40 days loss of phone privileges during this extreme pandemic, which is literally causing inmates to go into a depression, while experiencing anxiety and feelings of hopelessness....Inmates are not given verbal warnings, reprimands, or a few days loss of phone but are automatically giving 40 days loss of phone. The Gestapo-like actions of (the institution) administration is unbearable, especially when some inmates have 80-100+ days loss of phone!
We were promised two additional phones for each unit over four months ago, which would've help to accommodate inmates in unit. Currently, there are eight phones to accommodate about 176 inmates, and instead on (the institution) placing more phones in the unit they decided to limit inmates to five phone calls per day as the solution....
Most prisoners like myself suffer from PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and other stress related disorders, thus depend on the phone for moral support, a therapeutic outlet and to connect with loved ones during this pandemic and to escape the harsh reality of prison life....
I got sick the last week of March had fever of 102.1. They took me in to the ER. I had to get emergency gall bladder surgery after returning here to...went to general population and noticed I still had a fever. The medical team told me it was just from my surgery but it wasn't. Health staff wouldn't listen, denied me access to care. Finally they came to see me and I was jaundiced and was gaining 2-4 lbs a day. I had liver failure. I was in and out the hospital, when back at the prison they admitted me to the infirmary, but every time I went off grounds to the hospital I had to be quarantined 14 days . The problem was from March 31st to April 20th I was quarantined with no showers, no phone calls., they denied me a PSU (psychological services unit)...April 20th,I wrote the warden she fixed showers, calls and PSU but I felt unsafe unable to contact the outside world from march 31st to may 6 it has been a hard quarantine. My liver condition has improved so I hope no off grounds appointment.
If the Coronavirus gets to a unit it will spread either way in the bathroom or in the halls, or by where you get your food. If you're scared of catching the Coronavirus...wear your new mask and sit in your room. It should be our choice. But since were all criminals we apparently have no rights. But why lock us down all day in our cells while its beautiful outside and then throughout the day have us group together in a closed environment with all the windows shut. There is no consistency. You have asshole C/Os walking around making sure your window is shut on a 65° day. When fresh air is better to breathe than air pumped through our vents. I also haven't seen one C/O on our unit wear a mask or practice social distancing. A staff member is the only
way the virus can get in and they don't follow their own safety precautions.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin