…Isolated. Anxiety ridden. Helpless. Inhumane. All of these sum up how I’ve been forced to feel about myself over the past two years.
Incarcerated: 10 years
Housed: Stateville Correctional Center
Cry For Help
Deaths due to drug overdose have reached an all time high in America and there doesn’t seem to be any brakes on the runaway train. This is the reality we face in 2022, but the lost and forgotten in prisons across America deal with the same struggle. The difference? We’re property of the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The cells we live in should be condemned! Cockroaches nest in the walls. The water we are forced to drink causes illnesses. IDOC says, “Nothing is wrong with the drinking water,” however staff and outside visitors are told NOT TO DRINK THE WATER. We need water to survive, but the commissary has not sold bottled water in 4 months. Dayrooms and yard times are denied due to short staffing. Just stay in your cells and dwell on Covid-19. Do not ask for help or complain. Stateville doesn’t care.
Christmas 2020 we weren’t allowed in person visits – the vaccines had not yet been distributed. Christmas 2021, Stateville goes on a “Medical Lockdown,” due to officers testing positive. No visits from my 73 year old parents. December 24th, I’m watching the Wizarding and escaping into childhood memories of Harry Potter. Stateville, supposedly “Short Staffed” due to another covid outbreak, somehow has the officers to do cell shakedowns on Christmas Eve. I do my best to go along, not make waves, but I COULD NOT COMPREHEND why I was being pulled out of my cell at this time.
As a man of faith I’m supposed to turn the other cheek, but what happens when you run out of cheeks? Taking “medicine” along with blood pressure pills was my remedy that night. Under the Covid-19 quarantine, I’ve tattooed myself from head to toe, been to segregation twice, and had debilitating depression and anxiety. Prison itself brings about isolation. COVID cut off all in person contact with the outside world. The lack of humanity and personal connection has been crippling for me.
Will you help me keep my sanity in an institution that views me as nothing more than a product on a shelf that will expire and simply be thrown out? Will you step into my pain? Acknowledge my humanity and tell me that it’ll be ok?