Let me start by saying that I didn't do anything wrong and as much as I don't like the process, I don't believe the system intended to do anything wrong either. Whether they did or didn't isn't my place to decide...On Halloween, I stopped in the middle of some math homework and went to a chapel appointment I had scheduled. While there, I was approached and escorted away by our prison's staff to be sent off to the Intensive Management Unit (IMU), a place set apart from where I live, typically used to manage problematic inmates. This place is often referred to as segregation, solitary confinement, or "The Hole". But within IMU, this prison has established a set of cells for quarantine and isolation. I was shackled by my prison's staff who were in full protective wear. Here, they were extremely helpful in regards to my situation. They let me know that I was identified in contact tracing by being near a staff member that I work with in my prison job. I was informed that I wasn't going to be able to go back to my room. I informed them that I had just made some food that I was going to eat when I got back from my appointment and they gladly accommodated me by disposing of it. They knew I didn't want that mess to sit for at least 14 days while I was taken. They loaded me in a vehicle and off we went, through a series of gates. All said, the information flow and transport to IMU wasn't a bad experience. Inconvenient yes, but very understandable...
Once in IMU, things got different, although still not "bad". For much of the staff there, there are specific practices to deal with inmates, regardless of why they are there. One method is to provide limited information. You can't complain if you don't know what to complain about. For someone like me who isn't usually in any trouble, it was nerve wracking to figure out the landscape. Limited information was true for the day to day stuff there as well. I was placed in my cell by myself and given a change of clothing. I was then tested by swabbing for Covid. When I asked what was next to expect, I was otherwise given no further info. For the duration of my time there, I'd be given a temperature check twice a day by medical staff. When I asked further questions of them, I was given a wide variety of inconsistent answers, to include reasons I couldn't have the result of my Covid test swabbing on day one. These checks, meal delivery, and one stop by a mental health representative would be the only interaction with people for the next 16 days...
Two days after I arrived, I was allowed time out for a shower. I had the option of phone use, but when they took me from my prison, I didn't have my phone book with me (I usually email my loved ones anyway), so I couldn't think of phone numbers to call. I had no method of emailing them because as a matter of disciplinary course, when being sent to IMU, the email is shut off (not that I had the means to email, but over the course of 16 days my loved ones had been denied messages they sent me without explanation and they became worried about my situation). With Covid being a gripping event everywhere, contact is generally strained with loved ones from prison already. I was allowed a shower every two to three days and I had a method for ensuring the hygienic practices in my cell. I was given a wash basin and could wash clothes and "birdbath" in between showers. I was given soap, shampoo and dental care items that I felt were sufficient. Bedding was exchanged on Sundays and I was able to secure an additional towel and cleaning spray to wipe down everything from ceiling to floor to ensure I was in as clean an environment as possible.
by Rory Andes
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Rory Andes 367649
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Monroe, WA 98272