Where I Sit

A communiqué from H.H. Gonzales, sent 11/6/2020, before prisoners rose up and were locked down on Wed. 11/10

I sit in a cell about 5 feet by 10 feet with a bunk bed, two lockers, a sink, a toilet, and a chair, with a “bunkie” (a cellmate). The walls are concrete with many different levels and layers of dirt, grime, and paint, and the bars are different shades of paint and rust. The walls are filled with the drawings and writings of multitudes of people who were here before me, either quoting religious text, saying “fuck the police,” or drawings of some sexual scene or cartoon character.

I sit in a unit with 5 tiers, stacked one right above the other, with 38 cells to a tier, a unit housing 240 inmates, the cells are 1 foot apart, most double bunk (two people to a cell), and at the present date on quarantine from COVID-19 and for the last six days now, influenza. We’re locked in at least 23 hours a day and that includes the walks to chow. There are multi-paned small square windows running the length and height of the unit, with many busted out, so nights are cold, there are mice living in the heat vents, and sickness is constantly around us.

I sit in a chow hall to eat a meal based on a 77 cent, three time a day, per prisoner budget that’s nutritional and caloric standards fluctuate according to how much they can make from the small amount of food that places who were just about to throw it out sell them to maintain that budget. They run out of food scheduled on the menu regularly, and throw together whatever to get by, and then serve us “the whatever” again the next day. We are rushed in and out so fast that you barely have time to finish the small meal. We are seated, not 6 feet apart as we are supposed to be (COVID-19 safety measures don’t apply where I sit, period, or where we live, as you can see), and our friends the mice live in the vents here as well and run throughout the chow hall.

I sit in a place where some form of national armed forces division sends in people to test for COVID every Monday, to tickle-swab our noses. They come right into the unit, see the safety measures in violation, and leave out without doing nothing.

I’ve been sitting here for about 50 days now. I sit in the Charles Egeler Correctional Facility, R.G.C., in Jackson, Michigan, where mail is slow, phones are rarely allowed, and the JPay machines never work.