Friday, March 20, 2020

The Incarcerated Person Who Knows How Bad It Could Get

This interview by Justine van der Leun first appeared on Medium. Given our attempts to bridge the prison walls in Louisiana at this difficult time, it is being re-printed here. I believe I know who and where this incarcerated person is, but it could be anywhere and should raise demands that incarcerated people must be released, when possible, and cared for with dignity and respect in every case.

A couple of months ago about 300 of us got sick. They took everybody 50 years old and over and moved them permanently to their own dorm. Whatever that sickness was—maybe a brutal flu—ripped through the rest of the prison. I had a high fever, hot and cold sweats, dizziness, coughing for hours and hours, nonstop. The treatment was nothing. I said, “I need medicine.” They said, “No medicine for you. Drink some water.” Everything in prison is: “Drink water.” My stomach hurts: “Drink water.” My head hurts: “Drink water.” I’m burning up: “Drink water.”

There were guys worse than me. They put them up on a floor that they previously closed down years ago because it didn’t meet living standards, even in here: peeling paint, no running water, pure filth. Then they locked the prison down with no notice. They didn’t tell us anything—just had everybody locked in their cells. Every three days, we came out for 20 minutes to line up and take a shower. It lasted two weeks. That sickness, whatever it was, cleared. But now we’re on lockdown again. No visits, not from family or lawyers. No planned medical treatments. There’s a new virus, they said.