Today the DOC is wanting us to go back to eating in the chow hall. This is a terrible idea. Currently there are massive COVID-19 outbreaks at Coyote Ridge and Airway Heights. This has happened because the DOC as a whole, and about a quarter of us inmates, aren’t taking things seriously.
When we eat in the chow hall there are two precautions. The first is a two people to a table limit. The second is who has to eat in the chow hall alternates between B unit (us), and A unit. We can’t wear masks while eating (duh), and the layout of the chow hall makes certain seats dangerous because they are in high traffic areas, like next to the door, by the water fountain, and in front of the tray up window. If someone is an asymptomatic carrier and in one of these seats they can easily infect every person who passes by.
We don’t have a choice about eating in the chow hall, at 40 cents an hour, we are not paid enough to be able to buy all our own groceries and the only other alternative is starve.
They need to invest in a sustainable means of feeding all of us in our cells. Currently they use disposable paper and Styrofoam “clamshells” of the sort I’m used to seeing at mom and pop burger joints. Instead, they need to use the plastic IMU trays for our food which can be collected in the unit and returned to the kitchen to be washed and disinfected. Which would be both more cost effective and green friendly.
In short, I’m tired of the DOC doing whatever is easiest for them instead of doing what’s right for those of us under their boot heel and for the community at large.
We are receiving over two dozen people from Coyote Ridge Correctional Center (CRCC) on the chain today. CRCC is currently in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak and this is the first incoming chain TRU has received in months.
The WA DOC claims the people who are being transferred spent two weeks in quarantine and have been tested for COVID-19 and have two negative tests.
This in no way makes any one here feel safer.
I understand the reason why this is happening, and I agree with the logic. CRCC needs to reduce its population so that the people there can practice social distancing. The problem is they should be letting people out of prison not just shuffling people around. CRCC is having an outbreak because of overcrowding. The DOC’s solution is to reduce over crowding there by increasing overcrowding elsewhere. I don’t know if other facilities are also receiving people from CRCC, but I expect they are.
This has a lot of people here freaked out on a whole ‘nother level as well. TRU has the sex offender treatment program and ex-gang member “step down” programs here. CRCC is a highly political (meaning prison politics) facility. So many of the ex-gang members and sex offenders here are worried that the people coming in on the chain are still active gang members. If they are, this will most likely result in a lot of violence.
Interestingly, since we’ve reached the “new normal” violence here has gone way down. I attribute this to c/o’s having been instructed to not do random pat searches and cell searches. They now only do these things when they suspect someone of having contraband. The DOC has always claimed that they have to be super invasive in the way they police incarcerated people for the safety and security of the facility. Yet, it seems the opposite is true. COVID-19 has forced them to rule with a lighter touch and the result has been a safer living environment for us, and a safer working environment for them.
But I digress.
Having a large number of new people come in all at once is bound to upset the apple cart, whether it is through interpersonal conflict as they settle into TRU or, that which we all fear, the introduction of COVID-19 to this facility.