The Coronavirus as seen through the eyes of our Insiders
Part III: Let everyone know what’s happening in here . . . We’re scared
Eric 4/3 (North Carolina)
Let all the news agencies you can, local and national as well as the ACLU, know what’s going on here:
We’ve all just been informed by staff that starting tomorrow all units here are losing access to computers, TV, laundry rooms, and on Monday will be allowed only one five-minute phone call per day. In order to recharge our mp3 players, there will be a schedule for opening the TV room to put them on charger or take them off, as well as a schedule to re-validate our mp3 players on the computer. All other functions on the computer will be terminated, including email. After 11:30 tonight we will no longer be able to send or receive emails to/from family, friends or news organizations. The same goes for TV, we will no longer be able to get any more news there either. Because this a low security facility, we’ve been ordered to stay in our cubes, not cells which have walls and doors, throughout the day, allowed to go only to the showers as long as there isn’t a line, and then back again. We’re not allowed to move around the unit at all throughout the day.
We are told that starting tomorrow this will be in effect for the next 14 days. The reason they’re doing this, we are told, is to effect as much social distancing as possible. The housing units here are an open dorm format. We have only five-foot-high walls between us with three men in 2/3 of all the cubes, two people in another 6th, and 1 person each in the last 6th of the cubes in just this, my own housing unit. There are eight total housing units here. We’re already crammed in the housing unit together with very limited space. By taking away the TV rooms, computer rooms, and laundry rooms, they are decreasing the amount of what little space we already have. We are told that this is a mid-Atlantic region of the BOP decision and does not affect all the lows in the BOP nationwide where the vast majority of the lows are open dorms. We are told that this region directed all their facilities to enact the procedures that are currently happening in Penitentiaries and Mediums simply because they are happening there. So because they’re doing it there, the lows should as well despite the fact that it’s not practical in a setting such as the federal low housing unit. We are already worried about what’s going on in the world and how our families are coping during this crisis and now we’ll be, essentially, in near communication blackout. We’re already stressed, and this is just adding to it. We’re scared. We don’t need any more pressure. Please let everyone know what’s happening in here, if this message even reaches you. I hope it does. Sorry for the errors, the lines for the computers are quite long so I’m typing as fast as I can and not doing much about errors.
We’ve also had commissary taken away as well for the next 14 days. This comes after we were given a $25 spending limit in the middle of this past week, after only half the complex had shopped with their full spending limit of $170 every two weeks, following a commissary shut down the week before due to semiannual inventory, where no one shopped. We were barely able to get the things we needed let alone the things we wanted before all this happens. Now we’re being told we won’t be able to shop again for another two weeks.
It’s also apparent that the staff here knew this whole thing would cause an uproar when they responded with riot gear to possibly violent “dissenting opinions” in another unit. Remember this is a low with a large contingent of elderly and sick. From the looks of the four guys they took out of here, OC [capsicum/pepper] spray was used.
Please also contact the Raleigh News and Observer, Durham Morning Harold, and the Charlotte Observer for the major North Carolina news agencies, but also, the Washington Post and the New York Times and let them all know what’s happening here.
If something else comes up tonight before the comps are shut off, I’ll try to get it out, otherwise this should be my last email until the restrictions are lifted.
Editor’s note: The 14 days have expired, but as there has been no further communication from Eric, the assumption is that all of the restrictions are still in effect.