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Pennsylvania General Prison Talk, News, Introductions & Chit Chat Topics & Discussions relating to Prison & the Criminal Justice System in Pennsylvania that do not fit into any other Pennsylvania sub-forum category. Please feel free to also introduce yourself to other members in the state and talk about whatever topics come to mind that may not have anything to do with prison.

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Old 01-18-2021, 07:51 PM
Dweller201 Dweller201 is offline
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Default Lockdown and Mental Health.

I have a loved one in SCI-Muncy and she is locked down 23 hours a day, as are many inmates around the state.

She has been working hard on mental health issues between personal reflection and medication. Her crimes are mostly mental health driven and she was starting to realize that and it was making her feel good.

Right when she was feeling good and looking forward to her opportunity to get parole, the full lockdown hit. I speak to her daily and am now hearing torture creep into her voice.

She is housed with a picky murderer with a life sentence who resents her in the cell. So, not only does she have no physical activity, she is celled with a likely very crazy person.

All of that is beyond her control and my control. She is trying to see that, but with no work or exercise for many months, I am hearing terrible stuff like borderline despair in her voice.

Is there anyone advocating to lighten up on this total lockdown?

Previously, they were on units and there is no need to keep people in their cells, and not living normally, if you segregate the unit. If you do that, no disease are getting on the unit. Guards are brining corona in, not people who spend all their time on the unit.

It seems like "RHU" level torture going on and is anyone trying to stop it?
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Old 01-19-2021, 10:06 AM
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Part of the problem prisons are having is fielding enough guards who are not sick. They have an obligation to keep people physically healthy, so fielding a full compliment per shift makes stuffing them in lockdown the easiest way for them to keep them COVID free (though air ducts carry it to everybody in a unit - all it takes is one person). Free movement is not possible with a lack of guards.

Short form - while in a pandemic, some people are going to suffer more than others. Encourage her to engage in self care - from exercise in the cell with body weight exercises to journaling to putting in a mental health request - and take care of herself as best she can. Then vote against anybody saying, “tough on crime” because that means minimal budgets, and a complete disregard of the needs of inmates, COs, and staff
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Old 01-19-2021, 11:42 AM
Dweller201 Dweller201 is offline
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I do in fact encourage her to exercise and so forth as much as possible.

However, she had corona last Feburary and so did I. It is extremely mild for most people.

I work in healthcare and researched it fully last year. The stats from Europe were in before it got here and they stay the same. Most people get next to no illness or hard from the virus.

The constant talk in public is that the shutdown has done more harm than good. Some countries had no shutdown and they are fine.

All of that is something to argue about "for fun" if you have freedom. However, inmates are literally going crazy and being tortured in the same way as if they were in "the hole".

During normal times, people would be protesting some animal person being in the hole for too long. However, when it comes to this relatively harmless virus, THOUSANDS of people are in the hole, and there is no protest.

The average person responds to hype about corona and not the facts. That is impacting people in jail who need help to be mentally stable and supported.

What's going to end up happening is that people will be in longer since they can't complete programs. People they must let out are going to be institutionalized PTSD victims. That of course, is a direct setup to relapse on drugs, etc.

I have been working with the public and traveling all over a major city and I don't see or know anyone with corona. People in the worst parts of town don't even think or talk about it much, and don't have it. So, our people in prison are being subjected to unnecessary torture.
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Old 01-21-2021, 08:05 PM
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Jacob's Girl Jacob's Girl is offline
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People are past their breaking points. In our hospital, over half the intake flood has been from suicides, homicides, and OD's due to covid lockdowns. It's killing more than the virus is. As far as helping this one person, that's a toughy. I would try to find personal things which make her happy and do those for her. Phone calls, letter, packages, personal meaningful things such as books, magazines, homemade riddles and puzzles. Make her feel loved and special. Protests about inmate rights and freedom are occurring all over the nation. They just aren't publicized on msm. There is one group making headway (no names mentioned) but I ran from them as their tactics scared me. They appear to be on the antifa side of things, including harassing officials. Granted, it's getting their name out and potentially having the effects they wanted such as bringing to the local papers the inmates' and prisons' problems DOC doesn't want to admit to, but again, I disagree with their tactics, so I stayed away. I am a member of several advocacy groups and bring attention to it as much as possible. My friends have started to see what's really going on, and some have confided in me their prison stories they won't share with anyone else. Shame really. They shouldn't be ashamed of their past and most certainly not just because they are related or were once married to someone now in prison. That's just ridiculous. They only thing we can do (that I know of) is to shed light to our small circle. Maybe it will grow from there.
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Old 01-23-2021, 10:50 PM
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You can argue mild all you want. We are talking COVID in prisons. They do not get enough PPE. Inmates do not get enough nutritious food. The ventilation system means that the viral load of those exposed in prison is huge. For example, Lisa Montgomery was executed just before Biden was sworn in. A couple of months before her execution, her lawyers went to the prison to deal with the clemency issue and check on their client. They came away with COVID, and not just your run of the mill bad flu - we are talking one is still sick and both were flat on their backs for more than a month. Nobody died, other than their client who was not represented while the attorneys were sick (though they did try to gain extra time by filing for a stay due to illness). The last two men executed were both recovering from COVID at the time they were executed. This means that the executions themselves became a spreader event, not just an execution.

You can say whatever you want about how COVID has been treated in the real world. This is prison and prison is different. The efforts we have gone to to try to get inmates out and reduce the overall population has come to not much because of public outcry. The efforts we have gone to to try to get inmates and corrections officers to be some of the first vaccinated has had slightly more success. We already know that living and working in communal environments creates a much bigger hazard than real world life. We also know that if people would just mask up, there would be a serious impact on real world transmission.

Masks and social distance are not possible in prisons. Even when everybody has their own cell, they share air vents and the diseases that go along with it. Prisons are already such Petri dishes of MRSA, TB, HepC, and other infectious diseases that life insurance companies will not write for people who have been incarcerated. COVID has changed everything. And since there will be law suits for many COVID related deaths, prisons are doing what they can with what they have, which is locking people down for the duration. Want the duration to last not as long? Mask, social distance, follow precautions. And, push for more PPE in prisons, early release to relieve crowding, and push to get COs, inmates, and staff as high up on the vaccination list as you can.

And above all, do not minimize COVID. There are people who have been waiting a year to visit because the infection is running rampant. Visitation, movement, programming will not start until they can do it with the bulk of the population safe from infection. Where there is one infection in prison, everybody is soon to be infected. As miserable as your LO is in prison, at least she is alive.

But boy, I do love it when people think that every inmate, CO, and staff member should be willing to suffer through COVID because the chances of a bad outcome seem so negligible when more than 400k people have already died, and many, many more are disabled by the virus.
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Old 01-24-2021, 08:09 AM
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The Prison Society is tracking COVID in the prisons as part of their mandate, and we report regularly to the DOC. Throughout the pandemic, the DOC has been following CDC guidelines (whether you agree with them or not). There have been stretches which were "quarter-tiering" and "half-tiering." Under the former, than means cadres are out of cell around one hour per day; under the latter, the cadre is doubled and the block of time is doubled.

The DOC would love to get back to "normal." They have spent decades implementing best practices and this has been a major set back. The prisoners aren't the only ones feeling this, so the DOC is listening.

COVID is serious. You can follow this link to the DOC dashboard:

As of today, there are 1,739 inmates and 237 staff actively positive (that doesn't include those who were positive and are now negative.) 93 prisoner have died from it and 5% of the prison population is positive TODAY.

I regularly correspond or speak with an average of ten prisoners in any given week and I can say that not one of them feels the DOC is over-reacting. They hate what they're enduring, but they are much more afraid of contracting the virus.

Whether or not our prisoners will be placed in Category 1B is still being debated. The DOH has placed corrections staff in 1-B. Since the only people going in and out of the prisons each day are staff, this would still make a big difference. I think the final decision will be dependent on how many doses PA can get, because 38,600 doses for directed to our state prison population would have to be concurrent with another 30K+ for all the county jails. (To date, PA has administered one does to about 400K people and two doses to about 100K, so that's about 500K doses obtained.

Prisoners are given masks to wear outside their cells. They are encouraged to wash their hands often. Contrary to some myths, they HVAC systems exchange air with the outside in proportions close to that of busses, trains and airplanes, and they have had upgraded filtration systems (UV and electro-static) installed. (I realize the prisoners would not know these things, except -- perhaps -- a handful on a work crew.) The medical departments have developed negative pressure capability. As more money comes to the states for these enhancements, so of it is spent in our state prisons.

Maintaining mental health is, as Yourself has said, a matter of adjustment. When i speak with men and women held in long-term segregation, I have found that the "healthiest" are those who developed a daily routine. For starters, they don't sleep all day. They spend blocks of time reading, exercising, writing, cleaning the house, eating and even praying. They take a nap. My advice is to help them with these things by writing letters, sending crossword puzzle books or magazine subscriptions, and making sure you personally maintain an encouraging and positive outlook in your communications. Individuals should avail themselves of opportunities to speak with others, such as counselors, healthcare and chaplains, who are making daily rounds.

We are on the downslope of this pandemic. (Check PA's daily COVID numbers here: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/dis...ges/Cases.aspx) The vaccine will start making a difference. Just as out here, the folks in there must remain focused and optimistic.
Justice and compassion don't have to be exclusive.
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