I am Reginald S. Lewis. The watchful eyes of the prison officials behind the mass oppression discourages us from talking to each other, and so a free exchange of communication is severely obstructed.
After one prisoner had Coronavirus, we have seen the presence of medical personnel on the blocks daily. For two weeks, nurses came around checking each of our temperatures. On my block, several prisoners were taken out in wheelchairs, and they have not yet returned. There’s a pitiful paucity of factual information; listening pieces are spotty, anemic. We are trapped behind a dark veil of secrecy. In prison, the degrees of separation are minute. Contact tracing: it’s impossible. Invisible line between life and death for the American prisoner, is he measurable? We need to demand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections develop a safety protocol for their prison population, every prisoner, guard, volunteer, DOC employee should be tested daily, prisoner facilities should be stocked with personal protective equipment, ventilators – because it’s an incredibly condensed environment.
Well, we know from past flu seasons how a single guard or inmate can affect the entire prison population. When we organized on the outside to call on both Governor Wolf and the general assembly to grab their calculators and come up with $50,000 the state spends annually housing hoards of elderly prisoners, and the untold millions that can be saved by the early release of geriatric prisoners, a fraction of the cost can be transferred and diverted to businesses agreeing to creating job programs and to provide funding to halfway houses.
I am Reginald S. Lewis.