“You did this to yourselves…”     by    Rory Andes

Social distancing is difficult to do in a crowded prison. On my block, there are about 70-75 people. The two common areas we are allowed to share are day rooms measuring roughly 30′ x 30′ and 10′ x 20′. That’s about a total of 1,100 square feet of living space collectively. Also, in this space there are rules on exactly where we can be and when. This carves out several feet already. For a family of ten, it would be difficult to operate in this much space. For over seventy people, we have always made it work, but the space is difficult to use while implementing social distancing. But that family of ten in 1,100 square feet doesn’t have to social distance in their home, only when exposed to the public. So why not us?

The public to us are people not living on our block breathing our air and definitely the staff who ARE exposed to the outside. There’s a lot of buzz in the media about prisons right now and it’s a source of frustration because being spread out is recommended, but difficult to practice. So yesterday, an official came in frustrated that we weren’t far enough apart. Understandable. We want to be safe, too. But he insinuated the threat that we will be locked down soon because of it. We work, we exercise, we stretch our bodies outside of our cells. We interact and create community beyond our cells. Lock downs are synonymous with punishment. If two men live in the same cell, surely they can stand in a day room together, right? Like a family in your community?

The understandable frustrations are something we are coping with. The thing I struggle with was his comment, “You did this to yourselves…”. No. No we didn’t. Nobody here went to China and contracted Coronavirus. Nobody here went to the grocery store and contracted Coronavirus. If it’s here, someone from the public brought it in. Nobody here elected for more punishment through no fault of our own. I get their frustration, but I don’t agree I “did this to myself”. If you wonder why families and inmates get upset, it’s because of ideas and comments like this….

by Rory Andes

The time to end prison overcrowding is now. Vote like humanity depends on it.

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Rory Andes 367649
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