Prison Radio
Christopher “Naeem” Trotter

My name is Christopher Trotter. I’m calling from inside the belly of the beast at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

I’m living under the threat of COVID-19 inside the facility. It’s like waiting for the Grim Reaper to come and harvest your soul. You don’t know when- you don’t know when it’s coming, but you know it’s coming, so I find myself living in a constant state of anxiety and stress.

The administration’s response to COVID-19 here at the prison is to intimidate prisoners into not reporting if they may be asymptomatic or if they may actually be, uh, exposed to COVID-19. Their response is to- if you report it, everyone’s quarantined, you in isolation for 14 days, and so most prisoners are fearful to report it.

So right now, I’m sitting in here and it’s almost like a forest waiting to catch fire. You know, there’s no social distancing, there’s no really good sanitary measures. And the response that I would like to see take place is to have a mandatory testing for all prisoners, mandatory testing for all correctional facilities and guards.

And- and also the older prisoners, prisoners that are being dropped 20 or 30 or 40 years and may be suffering from some type of chronical illness. You know, I would like to see them have a chance to go to some type of parole board or, uh, get some type of clemency or some type of a relief from this, because those are going to be the most vulnerable and with the flu season coming up, you’re not going to be able to distinguish the two in this prison, and it’s going to be real bad here soon.

And then, you know, the industry complex, the prison industry complex, don’t want to lose any money. And they have minimum-wage-paying jobs here. So they’re not going to shut down these jobs because a few people might have COVID-19, and they’re not going to report it if their staff comes in and have COVID-19, cause they don’t want to shut the prison down. If they shut the prison down, they lose money.

And so the bottom line is this: prisoners’ lives matter. Our lives matter too. Not just black lives, not just white lives, not just Hispanic lives, but prisoners’ lives. We matter too. We’re still human beings at the end of the day. And again, my name is Christopher Trotter. I’m inside the belly of the beast at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.