We’re All on Lockdown Now

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation VPASS system has changed your preferred facility message. Your preferred facility is San Quentin State Prison.

New Message:

As part of CDC’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, normal visiting and family visits will be canceled statewide until further notice. Only legal visits will be held as scheduled. CDCR values visitation as an essential part of rehabilitation, but at this time the Department must make difficult decisions in order to protect the health and wellness of all who live in, work in, and visit state prisons. Stay up to date on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 response and prevention recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Thank you,
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation VPASS System

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are all doing your best to stay healthy out there.

A couple friends let me know they could use some interesting reading while they are sheltering in their homes, and asked me for an update on how San Quentin is handling this health crisis.

I’m writing this on March 23rd, 2020, which is Daniel Wozniak’s 36th birthday.

As of right now, no cases of COVID-19 have been identified inside San Quentin.

Along with everyone else in the state of California, San Quentin is on a limited lockdown.

As a resident of California, I’m still allowed to go to the grocery store or take a walk in the park (well, maybe not that last one any more, depending on where you live in California).

Daniel still gets to go out to yard (locked in an outside cage) every other day, and he can still attend group meetings (locked in an inside cage). Unlike a full lockdown, Daniel is still given access to a telephone a couple of days a week.

The tier phone is passed from inmate to inmate along with a rag and a bottle of spray cleaner. However, Daniel sees no point in spraying the phone when everyone has already touched the bottle and the rag. He has always cleaned the telephone with his own supplies, so he’s already in the habit.

Much like the rest of California, the inmates are not allowed any visitors.

But keeping visitors out doesn’t immunize the prison against possible exposure. The prisoners don’t leave the grounds, but that doesn’t keep them from having any contact with the outside world. Guards still come and go.

One guard was recently sent home when it was learned he’d been a passenger on The Grand Princess, a cruise ship which docked in San Francisco carrying passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.

I wonder if it’s actually possible to keep the virus out of the  prison, and if one prisoner contracting COVID-19 will mean the inevitable infection of the majority of other inmates.

Whether you care about the health of prisoners or not, a COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin Prison isn’t good for anyone.

It would be expensive for taxpayers, and dangerous to anyone who enters  the facility, or comes in contact with anyone who leaves.

I suppose the inmates might actually be safer than the rest of us, considering the large number of people who are not following “shelter in place” guidelines in the “free” world.

No matter what, prisoners have definitely had more practice at being kept away from the rest of society.

Many of them might not notice much of a difference.

Then again… some prisoners are accustomed to regular visits from family and friends. They may experience more loneliness and isolation than they’re used to, even on Death Row.

Prisoners like Daniel Wozniak.