Due to COVID19, the prison has us coming out for phones, showers, kiosks, meals and recreation in cohorts of 21 or 22 cells (roughly 38 prisoners per cohort). Initially, we were in cohorts of 5 cells with 45 minutes per cohort. Now we are in phase two. The problem is that while the cohort size has more than quadrupled, the time out of cells hasn’t. We have eight phones on the block. Staying in touch with family and friends is of the utmost important to us. So phone time is priority.
We get two day room periods (phone, shower, kiosk time) per day for 1 hour each period. Do the math. Everyone cannot use the phones. This creates hostility between prisoners. Everyone wants to call home and check on their loved ones. We have had to negotiate phone time so there are no fights. Everyday, there is an incident. But we know we have to work together.
The incident last night was an attempt by an officer to stoke hostilities between us. Burning us for day room time and telling us to blame certain prisoners was a divide tactic. We don’t need this stuff, especially right now. We are stressed and worried we will be back on lockdown due to the uptick in infections. Some people have never developed a cooperative attitude until now. Because they have to. Our peace is fragile.
The administration is aware of the problems over the phones. It is prison wide. People have written to the Superintendent and the Deputies about the problem. They need to reign in these officers who create problems and difficulties for prisoners. The administration has asked us to be patient and work with them during this crisis. All we want is the same cooperation and patience. Some officers want us to fight each other to justify their creating a more oppressive environment than what we already have. Some officers wish we were locked down completely with no communication to the outside world. We cannot let that happen.