Water and Dayroom


Today marked a big first step towards bringing the lockdown to an end. The dayroom schedule returned to normal and our access to water has returned to normal.

During Quarantine we had 20 minutes of dayroom every other day one cell at a time, and at this point we were able to get water whenever we needed to. When we got off quarantine that changed to two, 45 minute dayrooms per day with 16 other cells, and we were only able to get water during our dayroom, there only being the one water fountain/bottle filling station on the bottom tier. This caused all kinds of problems because there were days where we would go from 3:30 in the afternoon till 11 the next morning without being able to get water. Considering we have to buy a 2 liter water pitcher, this was a serious problem. After a couple weeks things opened up a little more and we had three dayroom per day, but with the same problems with water.

Now we have six, 50 minute dayroom per day with all 32 cells of our tier and can once again get water whenever we want.

At least, we would be able to if the unit wasn’t locked down today for the contractor who is installing a second waster fountain/bottle filling station on the top tier.

I’ve got to say, the DOC gets ten out of ten for good thinking on this one, but minus several billion for irony of implementation.


I’m Gaining Weight for Once


I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I’ve consistently been at least 20 to 30 pounds under weight and as much as people tell me how jealous they are of me being skinny, I’ve always hated it.

There’s actually a bunch of health problems that comes with being extremely underweight like I’ve been that range from circulation issues which make me feel cold all the time and weakens my immune system to trouble staying hydrated which causes me to have a greater susceptibility to heatstroke and other issues.

And it’s not like I don’t eat. I eat a lot, my body just burns it off instead of converting it to fat like happens for most people.

Well, I recently started taking Remron for my anxiety, and I’m already seeing a major change in my body weight. I am 5′ 9″ (169 cm) tall. I was, before starting Remron, 130 lb (60 kg). Now, a month later, I am 141 lb (64 kg) and I am so happy about that. But it’s also a little weird for me. I’ve got a little bit of a pooch on my belly, there’s these saddle bags just on top of my kidneys, and now my thighs rub together just a little bit. None of these things have ever been a thing for me before.

Today my best friend told me I needed bigger clothes because mine were starting to get a little tight. I used to wear a size small T-shirt and medium shorts and I haven’t had a chance to exchange them yet but I’d put in for it. She shook her head “no, you need some bigger clothes now.” So she went and scared up a medium T-shirt and some XL shorts and they fit. I was shocked. Normally if I tried to put on a pair of XL shorts they would fall down as soon as I let go of them. Now they fit the same way the size mediums used to. And I’m actually not swimming in the T-shirt. It’s amazing.
Gaining weight is really showing me just how many things in my life are impacted by my size. I keep over estimating how much I need to wear for how cold it is outside. Where before I was cold wearing a swear shirt and a jacket, now I’m a little warm with just the sweatshirt. Just because I’ve put on a few pounds.

I’m hoping to put on just a little more, like 5-10 lb (2.3-4.5 kg) more. But we’ll see what happens

Mental Health, A Moving Target


I’ve previously argued that if a person breaks their leg, they aren’t gonna hesitate to use crutches, If a person loses a leg they aren’t going to be like “no I’m good, I dont want a wheel chair, I’ll just scooch my ass across the floor.” (whether or not they get a prosthetic is more than I’m looking at with this metaphor). So why do people treat mental health issues like they are fine when they are obviously not? With mobility issues people are quick to be like “yep, I need something to navigate spaces.” However, with mental health issues people pretend that they don’t need anything to navigate their own life. So if we treat meds like a crutch, cane, or wheel chair and therapy like physical therapy… they may be permanent, they may be temporary, so why are they treated with such shame and often met with denial of there being a problem in the first place?

That being said, my resentencing has me seriously messed up. It is (potentially) the difference between me dying in prison, or me getting out 10 years from now. That’s a big terrifying deal. Then on top of that I am having to go over the everything with psychologists who are going to testify at my resentencing. My crime, my damage, the child abuse, everything. I feel guilt and shame about what I did to come to prison every day. I have to think about it every day, I can’t not. But I don’t normally talk about it all that much.

I have been off psych meds for the last eight years. It was a long hard journey, doing my personal work, to get to a place where I didn’t need antidepressants just to make it out of bed in the morning, and to make it to the end of the day each night.

I recently made the difficult choice to get back on meds because of how much I’m struggling with everything around my resentencing.

As I’ve said before, meds can be as permanent as a wheelchair, or as temporary as a crutch. As for me, I think maybe they are like a cane that sits in the hall closet during the good times, but is pulled out and dusted off every now and then when needed. And right now, I need it.

I feel some shame around this. Like, I’m not good enough, like I’ve somehow failed because I wasn’t able to just deal and stay off the meds. But I can’t let that stop me from being honest about where I’m at and getting the help I need.
So now I’m taking an anti-anxiety med each night before bed and it is helping.

Prisoner Activism That Works


I was recently asked how incarcerated people in Washington state managed to get access to gender affirming clothing. Well, the answer to that is a little bigger than the one issue, but I figured I should answer it as completely as possible.
We didn’t just try and fight each issue as an individual thing, instead, we focused on building an network of support both in and out of the prison to support us in advocating for our various needs. Also, we used what I call a venn-diagram philosophy to the issues we raised. If you draw two overlapping circles, the one on the left can represent the issues of incarcerated cis people, and the one on the right the issues of incarcerated trans people. A vast majority of the issues trans people face in prison are shared in some way with cis people and go in the middle part where the two circles overlap. Cis people may deal with them to a lesser degree, and the details may be different, but there is much overlap. We fight for all the trans issues, just keeping in mind, cis people also need to (for example) safely shower with dignity.

First up was getting our own house in order. We created “LGBTQ study and discussion groups” in multiple prisons throughout the state, which we used to get educated, focused, and organized. There are a lot of Toastmasters clubs in Washington prisons. They have an excellent leadership training program which taught us the skills of how to create such groups, with a board who is accountable to the membership, committee chairs, project managers, an achievable list of goals and activities and all that good stuff. I highly recommend signing up for Toastmasters. The monthly dues are well worth it. It’s a lot of fun and public speaking skills always come in handy.

We reached out to Disability Rights Washington, who is a watchdog organization whose job is to come into the prison and make sure incarcerated people with disabilities are getting their needs met. By framing many of our issues as being a part of medical treatment for Gender Dysphoria, we were able to have their support (and the leverage that comes with). We also reached out to queer anarchists in the state and they set up a local chapter of Black and Pink. Never underestimate the power of having some crazy awesome protester friends who are happy to do a phone zap when prison officials are misbehaving. These groups, along with the prison’s education department, have been an excellent source of sponsors for our study and discussion group. A huge part is a few select individuals on the outside who have really carried (and continue to carry) a lions share of the outside work and helped keep everyone’s efforts organized and focused.

Once we had this foundation in place, we were able to have letter writing events through our LGBTQ study group which was coordinated with our outside allies calling and writing letters. We’d write the governor, members of the state legislature, and other interest groups. We invited these people to our study and discussion groups to educate them on our issues. We also reached out to administration and the prison guards union and invited them to come to the meetings as well, though with much less success.

Our biggest arguments were straight out of the WPATH standards, and we used examples of other states who’ve already created trans friendly policies. We’d get their policies and use them as a jump off point for our proposals to the WA DOC.
This holistic approach, utilizing both radical and assimilationist strategies, continues to serve us well as we push to get our needs met.

Potential Increased Access to Clemency for People With LWOP in WA


Once again it is the legislative season in Washington State. One bill is generating a lot of attention, it passed the Washington State Senate and has now moved to the State House. This bill will codify requirements for people with LWOP to be able to be approved for clemency.

The arguments I am seeing raised by the local news stations are essentially as follows:
1) Gary Ridgeway would be able to apply for clemency in just a few short years if this were to pass and he’s a serial killer who should never get out of prison. Therefore, no law can be passed that could give him any chance of release.
2) “We” (meaning prosecutors and Republicans) made a promise to victims that people convicted of First Degree Aggravated Murder would die in prison when the death penalty was taken away. This bill would break that promise.

Regarding the first point, Charles Manson died in prison in California where he had a hearing every few years to see if he could be paroled, and every single time he was told “No”. Just because a person is being reviewed to potentially be released does not mean that they will in fact go anywhere other than back to their prison cell to die of old age and medical neglect.

As for the second, prosecutors and republicans do not represent the victims/survivors of crime. Nor does any one person represent all of everyone in such a broad and diverse category of people. Rather, most prosecutors and republicans hold to a punitive model of criminal justice which is where their view point comes from and leads them to manipulate people’s pain into a political tool.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say, that’s not OK.

The reality is some victims/survivors of crime want to see the people who caused them harm be punished as much as possible. Others want the people who caused them harm to have a chance to reform themselves and eventually, reintegrate into society. At different points in their life any one victim/survivor of a crime may switch between one or the other of these viewpoints, or some other position in regards to the person who caused them harm.

I, as a person who has caused serious irreparable harm and who is specifically in prison for First Degree Aggravated Murder, have my own perspective. Yes, after I committed my crime I needed to be put in a place where I could not cause further harm. That place was prison. I’ve now served 15 years during which I’ve done and continue to do my personal work. I believe that if I keep it up, some day I will be ready to go back out into society.

However, as things stand, there is not a codified way for me to to be reviewed to see if I am ready to be released, and even if I was found releasable, there is no codified standard for how long I should spend in prison before I receive that review. In fact, as things stand, a person can could put in for immediately after being convicted and nothing but convention says they won’t be considered by the clemency board until after they’ve served a minimum amount of time, dependent on their crime. For murder it is roughly 20 years. A lot of people are turned down the first time they apply. I have a personal theory that the board just to see how they react to a “no”. So then, 3 years later, they can apply again for a slim chance at mercy, and every 3 years there after. And really, a person being recommended to the governor is more a matter of the clemency board’s whim than any set criteria for releasablity.

If this bill passes, it would codify when a person can apply for clemency (as opposed to it being convention) and codify the requirements to be satisfied for a person to potentially be found releasable (as opposed to it being the whim of the board). So in some ways this bill actually makes it less likely that someone who should not be released would be recommended for clemency.

And of course, let’s not forget that clemency is, at its heart, a political process. It requires the governor to sign off on any given individual’s release. And nobody is gonna vote for the guy who let a notorious serial killer free.

Day 24 of WCCW-MSU-B Covid Quarantine

The last week has brought a collection of changes to how the quarantine is being managed.

We finally got to exchange our dirty sheets for clean ones, the phone and shower schedule has changed so that everyone will get three opportunities to use each per week, as opposed to one phone call and three showers per week that’s been happening. People who have had a positive covid test and recovered are now able to go back to work if they work in critical areas like the kitchen, receiving, or medical.

However, the biggest change is that admin is actually communicating with us lowly inmates. Both yesterday and today we received memo packets with information about the outbreak at WCCW, as well as the outbreaks in other facilities. It’s getting really bad in all the prisons.

One piece of good news is the DOC is making N-95 masks generally available to inmates. Up to this point, only staff and inmates janitors have had access to the N-95 masks, the rest of us have been given surgical masks. The wearing of surgical masks has been mandatory for a while now, upgrading to the N-95 mask is voluntary.

Omicron is so contagious that I have no idea how I haven’t had a positive test. Everyone I work with and hang out with (except one person) have all tested positive. Specifically, two out of the three people I’ve said “if you get it I’m OK with getting it” because there has to be some people I can relax around and occasionally get a hug from when I’m feeling shitty, have got it. These are the folx I didn’t bother wearing my mask around and they didn’t bother wearing their masks around me. So like I said, how I managed to not get covid is seriously just a matter of dumb luck at this point. I got my shots, wash my hands often, wore my mask properly around everyone else, and all that jazz. So who knows, maybe it’s a good thing I trust my immune system to do it’s job. Kinda annoying though because if I had caught covid then I’d be able to go to work now.

Today, we received our fifth covid test since quarantine began. I honestly can’t say which way I want it to go.

Day 17 of Covid Quarantine, No End In Sight


It is day 17 of the covid quarantine here in WCCW-MSU B pod. Earlier this week the DOC put out a memo which said there was 122 positive cases of covid at WCCW. Yesterday, over a dozen more people tested positive in MSU-B and were sent to the gym. One of whom is the friend of my roommate, which means she could have covid, which means I could have covid. I’ve marked the 25th on my calendar. If I’m tested on or after that date and I’m still negative, I’ll consider myself to be in the clear.

Thankfully, after the latest batch of positive cases were moved out of the unit, the CUS had everyone on the top tier with a roommate move into one of the neighboring empty cells, so we are all now in single cells. This also is a sign of just how many people are missing with covid. The unit was overcrowded. Now it is so empty we each get our own cell and rattle around in its emptiness like so many ghosts.

After the people with covid left, people who have tested negative for covid in the gym returned to the unit. Still, the unit is unbelievably devoid of people.

We have some serious quality of life problems going on in the unit. We haven’t been able to get new bed sheets since the quarantine began. We haven’t been able to get to the phone because the c/o’s are trying to get everyone to the phone all in the same day (mathematically impossible with 70 cells total, 20 minutes per cell, only one cell out at a time, and only 10 hours in the day to get it done in). We are asking that they split it up, bottom tier Monday, top tier Tuesday, and etc, which would work with there being 32 cells per tier, but so far admin is not listening at all. And above all, we haven’t been informed of anything that’s going on. It makes for a lot of fear, uncertainty, isolation, and unnecessary stress.
I am certainly not in a good headspace right now. The emptiness of the unit reminds me of when I was in Walla Walla. When I first arrived at the facility, it was brand new, officially opened only 6 months before, and they were still filling up the beds. Then later, each time there was a major riot/multi-man fight, there would be mass pack outs and the unit would once again return to haunted emptiness. I’ve worked hard to get out of the mindset of the men’s prison since coming to WCCW, but this lock-down is setting me back in a lot of ways. More than a couple people have commented that I am much more jumpy, jittery, and generally on guard than they are use to seeing me. I’m just wondering how long it will take me to bounce back once the quarantine is over.

And the Lockdown Goes On, Week Two


I’m still healthy, the nurses haven’t come around for another covid test since the 10th so I don’t actually know my covid status. The last time I had an exposure was the 7th, so it’s super nervous making. I’m just glad all my tests have been negative so far. If I have a positive test then I’ll be sent to the gym with all the other asymptomatic people. And I don’t wanna go to the gym… there’s a bunch of sick people there. Seriously though. That would mean a serious loss of comfort and privacy which I’m not OK with. I’d be able to take one box of stuff with me and everything else would be packed out by the c/o’s.

Thank goodness I just got my booster shot last month.

Unlike the first week of the lockdown, during this second week there’s been a the shower/phone schedule with us getting three showers and two 20 minute phone calls per week. So that’s good. We just had showers and laundry pickup today. Phones yesterday. We need linen/blanket exchange but that seems to have fallen off the c/o’s radar.

Right now as I type this the c/o’s are packing out everyone’s cells who have been moved out the unit. I don’t understand why they would do that, it’s like half the unit and it’s not like anyone will be shipped to some other unit/facility or something. There is only the one medium custody woman’s facility in Washington state. They all will be coming back here. In any case, I’m not even sure they have storage space for that many people’s property.

The thing which really has me stressed out is the sheer number of people who are gone and I have no idea how any of them are doing. I don’t know if they are asymptomatic and just waiting for negative tests to let them come back. I don’t know if they are sick and suffering. I don’t know if they are on ventilators and fighting for their lives. I just don’t know and that is more terrifying to me than the possibility that I could still catch covid in here.

Day 3 of Covid Outbreak in MSU-B of WCCW


Well… we’ve got a full blown covid outbreak at WCCW. We have dozens of cases confirmed in our pod now. Asymptomatic people are packing their stuff to move to the gym while they wait to not be positive anymore as I write this. They will be moved within the next couple hours.

The DOC has done a couple things right, lockdown the unit, mass covid testing, allowing unit laundry to stay open, delivery of meals to the unit. However, they are screwing up a couple things, denial of access to showers, intermittent denial of access to water and bathrooms for hours at a time.

It is unclear how long this state is going to last. Looks like it’s gonna be for a while.

Dayroom is closed for the foreseeable future. I don’t like it, but it makes logical sense. However, the showers being closed for at least a week is absolutely not OK. If the DOC wants to regulate us taking showers, only letting a couple people per bathroom shower at a time, fine. But they can’t just say “no showers period.” More people will get sick from them doing that.

Shits getting real and I am more than a little freaked out about it. There is almost zero communication about what’s going on. All we are being told is what we can eavesdrop from the cops talking amongst themselves in the dayroom and the direct orders being shouted at us.

Omicron at WCCW


Omicron has just made its way into WCCW. Two staff members positive (confirmed by a memo from admin). CCU was locked down first a couple days ago with five positive cases (the memo admitted to only one). Covid quarantine for my pod (MSU-B) just started yesterday because we have at least one positive case. Unknown if we have more. A few people, those with compromised immune systems, have been moved to the prison’s hospital (known as IPU) for their own safety. Everyone, cop and inmate, are still trying to figure out what’s going on.

As of right now I think that’s it. Information is half rumor mill and half what the cops let slip on accident with the exception of one memo that may or may not be propaganda.

It’s a shit show.

Thankfully, booster shots started being made available a little over a month ago. Definitely glad I got mine. It also helps that a couple months ago the DOC started offering incentive bags for people who get the vaccine or have already gotten the vaccine. Which has driven up our vaccination numbers. I mean, who doesn’t want $15 of free stuff?

Hopefully we have enough people vaccinated that, in combination with the lockdown, the virus can’t spread more. Only one way to find out.