Prison Radio
Joadanus Olivas

I call this “COVID-19 to Life.”

I never believed that jailhouse rumor pertaining to a world catastrophe or an invasion on U.S. soil, which would prompt the correctional officers to go to each cell and kill us prisoners one-by-one in accordance to a written law, which prohibited our release in this world event due to us being threats to society, deeming us enemies of the state.

Fellow prisoners, usually the older ones, will point out that I can find this law located in some book in the  law library. I’ve never ventured there and I disagree to their promulgations, maybe out of denial or, better yet, fear, but I will reject it even more strongly when my peer spoke of them releasing poisonous gases in the ventilation systems connected to our cells, thus eliminating us and exiting the prison compound in gas masks peacefully.

Hold the humor. There’s a saying we’ve all heard about, how the same thing that’ll make you laugh will make you cry, and it’s ironic today. My smile has vanished. And what with the jailhouse rumor, in my opinion, on the contrary has become actual reality for me and for countless others housed inside this prison industrial complex, overcrowded and unsanitary. The catastrophe is the obvious pandemic of COVID-19 and the invasion where all the activists in places such as Oregon, according to Trump, which begins a war on U.S. Soil.

Now, as far as the correctional officers killing us prisoners one by one, opening each cell, this is true also. Each time they come and open the cells, they wear [] with no masks on their faces protecting us; this is similar to them using a rifle to annihilate us, especially when they sneeze and cough. I don’t to laugh anymore. The new arrivals with possible signs of COVID-19 are placed in adjacent cells next to me, arriving from COVID-19 hotspot, such as Chino and San Quentin.

Thus the rumor of poisonous gases in our ventilation systems manifests ironically, and we’re all left to die. I don’t laugh anymore. I asked for disinfectant to clean around the housing unit, more in a myriad of other COVID-preventing material. On this grievance I filed to help myself and others be protected from this pandemic. I was denied.

I’m a tier tender and that’s my slave occupation in this facility. I’m responsible to clean the housing unit such as the showers, rec area, and phones. So every day, I’m exposed, and I could die from COVID or the hands of an officer, because of me being the rat for exposing their precarious behaviors for [inaudible] sanitation.

If you could observe the hoodlums right now, you would agree how immature they are, throwing rubber gloves at each other with no masks on and grappling one another. My friend, Jay, is in his mid seventies. He’s been in prison longer than my 27 years of existence on earth. And they refused his release from prison. He’s asked for it because of debilitating health factors and higher chances of death, if infected by COVID-19. So the rumor was a fact all along.

So I don’t laugh anymore. I wrote “I can’t breathe” on my face mask. I didn’t get any static from the COs, but then I wrote “defund,” as in defund all officers, I received a look that could kill today. Well, before I die, BLM baby! Black Lives Matter.

I love you mom. Joadanus Olivas.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.