I sit in the cell on quarantine, mad, frustrated, confused, scared, and fearful as fuck. Along with other brothers in the struggle here at Ironwood State prison, I have been on modified programming for about a year now. I have limited access to the yard, the room, Chapel, school, programs, vocational, and contact visits. For the latter part of the last year, I've been confining by myself. They even bring the food trays to the building, so we don't go to the chow hall. That's how restrained I've been. An outbreak occurred months ago in another yard. It was an "awe shit" moment but nothing to worry about because it was isolated. They locked us down and tested everybody. A negative result. Another situation happened on another yard weeks ago backspace after. They locked us down and tested everybody—a negative result.
Then the homie working in Canteen got sick in another building on my yard. They moved him and his celly off the yard. Then more started vanishing off the yard. On the daily, "inmate Twitter" was tripping about people getting sick. They locked us down and tested everybody. A negative result, again. That's when the unthinkable happened. They designated a building on my yard after already having facilities on the other yard for the infected to be the house for quarantine. Officers who usually worked our buildings would work there on one shift then would come work in our building on the next. Using the same gloves and mask they used around the contain contaminated.
After that, people in my building started getting sick. On February 5th, they locked us down and tested everybody—another negative result. I was in a cell by myself, with the only movement being phone calls and showers every three days. They came back with another test on February 8th. On February 9th, they came with the first dose of vaccines. The nurses filled needles with a substance from a bottle, laid the needles on the table, discarded the bottles, tried to assess the assembly line, and administer it to all who wanted it. They had me fucked up. I've been watching Dr. Fauci the last past year, and I know that the vaccine has to be a certain temperature, and I wanted to see the bottle to make sure it was Moderna. My logic was, how could you have a dose for me, but essential workers in the community couldn't get it? I asked questions, and they got frustrated with me. Safe to say, I didn't take it. I felt fine with no symptoms chilling in my cell doing my college homework and working on my next novel until I was greeted at the door on February 11 by an officer saying I'm moving to quarantine.
The minute I got to the building, it got all bad. I got fatigued, my nose started running, I got chills, I couldn't eat, and my blood pressure was high. I have yet to see a doctor—only a pair of nurses take care of vitals twice a day. I'm told I'll be in quarantine for 21 days then kicked back to the yard after. That's it. My mom has been calling the prison to check on me and has been told that they can't release any of my info or my condition. It's like they know they fucked up and are trying to cover it up. I refused to stay mute. And let the silent killer kill me!
I've adhered to the warnings of social distancing, Mask wearing, and washing my hands to prevent contacting Covid for the past year, and an environment where it's relatively impossible to stay 6 feet away from people when in most cases, you share a cell with someone. Who is the blame for this travesty? Who do I hold accountable when I've done everything in my power to stay safe? I feel as though the department of corrections here in California has an obligation to protect incarcerated. If I violate or harm an officer, I'll get penalized by the law. The same should apply in this case.
I want to file a case action of a lawsuit against CDCR and Ironwood State prison for exposing me to Covid and neglecting my care after the fact. My voice may be muffled, but I'm hopeful that sounding Rohr from the world can be the difference needed to shed light on this issue and provide the justice we in here seek.
I’m Damien “Toppnotch” Hodges, author of the “Blinded By The Lights: A Diamond In The Rough” trilogy series. I’m interested in networking to find innovative ways to gain exposure for my brand of Urban “Reality” writing as well as assistance with Post-conviction relief from this illegal sentence I’m confined to. It’s because of my position of incarceration that its relatively impossible to maintain an active marketing plan to maximize the potential of my novels or shed light on the injustice I’ve suffered and still endure.