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Giving Compass' Take:
• Michael J. Moore describes his experience as a prisoner struggling with retaliatory COVID-19 prevention methods after the protests in Monroe, Washington.
• How are prisoners being overlooked as the pandemic rages on? What can we do to push for more prisoner-focused COVID-19 prevention methods in the United States?
Here at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, four living units—each housing roughly 200 prisoners—share one recreation yard. And around this time of year, I could watch as teams gathered almost daily to compete on the soccer field or practice around the baseball diamond.
All this changed in early April, after news that the first cases of COVID-19 inside a state prison had been confirmed at Monroe Correctional Complex. Courageous fellow residents, refusing to be bribed into appeasement with fast food, staged what would become the first protest at a U.S. prison over staff negligence amid the pandemic.
It felt like a victory to those of us who had lost our right to liberty.
However, it was short-lived. The Washington State Department of Corrections responded by implementing restrictive measures under the pretense of promoting social distancing, and the number of bodies allowed in the recreational areas was drastically reduced.
Now three times each day, hundreds of us, desperate for fresh air and to bask in the sun’s rays sprint through the halls and crowd at the turnstile. Once 150 of us have passed, the turnstile locks, leaving those of us not lucky enough to exit gazing out at our massive yet eerily desolate yard, before trudging back to the much smaller living units, which have remained perpetually crowded since these regulations were put in place.
It’s worrisome to think administration officials somehow don’t comprehend that the solution to crowding is spreading out. And it’s distressing, as well, to anybody taking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines seriously, because essentially the Department of Corrections has interpreted them in such a way that allows them to be weaponized and used as retaliation for having been protested against.
Read the full article about unhealthy COVID-19 prevention methods in prisons by Michael J. Moore at YES! Magazine.