I’ve been incarcerated for almost 26 years. I have seen many things since my incarceration. To be frank at 49 years of age I’ve actually been truly in the streets since I was 14 years of age. Add that to the almost 26 years in prison and you’ll understand what I’ve seen but a possible epidemic outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in prison is new to me.

The most glaring is dealing with Covid-19 while in prison. I am currently in one of the oldest prisons in Texas. At first we were forced to remain inside a very small cell. I can’t extend both arms inside the cell I am assigned, between the bunk and brick wall. Facing the cell door is about four paces from the toilet to the bars. So imagine, me being a larger person and having a cell mate with matching weight, when I stand to piss, he is forced to be seated in his bunk.

To make matters worse we each have personal property lined underneath the bunks around the toilet and at one end of our bunks. So there is no space and an EPIDEMIC OUTBREAK of the Covid-19 virus is obvious. If I take a crap, I have to be flushing as soon as one drops to prevent the smell. But there in lies another glaring problem. The administration decided to have the flush kit on a 5 minute timer; so if I flush we have to wait 5 minutes to flush or if you flush before 5 minutes the toilet will not flush again for one hour.
As shower time – and mind you, a sit foot apart rule is in place … the shower is crammed with bodies. You guessed it, the Covid-19 virus spread rapidly. During cell time, nurses usually walk around taking temperatures. If you have a 100° temp, you get locked up for 14 days or tested both – then return back to the exact same cell.
We are allowed one row at a time in the dayroom to make calls – calls usually last ten minutes only. If you have others to call, tough. If you call and talk that’s it – whether the conversation last or not. Masks are mandatory, the only place it’s not, is inside the cell with a stranger. At the time the STRESS LEVELS are high right along with the mental health.
Everyone wants to know about family and everyone does not have access to phones. If your family does not register their phonenumber, no calls from home. I had waited 25 years to see parole as well, so my anxiety levels are high! Along the food is cold, boiled eggs, cold sandwiches, limited cold water, commissary happens every two weeks -with a catch- only  ten bucks.  I have an elder mother, whom I worry about constantly especially with Covid-19. These are my anxieties … hard to focus on my innocence at this point.
Derrick L. Griffin, 06-02-2021