July 7, 2020 by David Fon
Dear fellow inmates, and ConTextos family and supporters,
To stay connected with our Authors behind bars, we’ve sent them letters with writing prompts and invited them to publish pieces on our blog. This is a piece from, David Fon, currently in Robinson Correctional Center. You can read his full memoir here. This piece was written mid June.
All of us reduced to state issued numbers and charges have got the worst of it during this Covid “Pandemic.” The state and I.D.O.C. have used this opportunity to deprive us of our few rights and privileges in every way they can. I know it’s been hard to endure, I’m in here with you.
All of us are treated just like caged chickens—being used to produce profits with no regard for our welfare other than keeping us alive. Let’s face it, the state and I.D.O.C. have never cared about your feelings or your welfare, only your lawsuits and/or any profits to be made off of exploiting you. These two factors are the sum of your life to I.D.O.C. and the state of Illinois—to believe anything else is hard for me to fathom. For all the goody-goody talk and corny mission statement(s) “To serve justice, and rehabilitate offenders” “and offer wonderful programs” etc. is all window dressing. Those inside know a truthful mission statement would read “To bilk taxpayers, and warehouse undesirables all while creating jobs for cops and profits for the elite.” This would not sound as nice while pushing policy that is often blatantly racist and designed to cripple a person’s ability to ever be a productive member of society again.
With this said, “Covid 19” has been exploited by our captors with maximum effect and damage to the few programs we do have, and to deprive us of our basic constitutional rights (state and federal). I.D.O.C. is mandated by state law to provide us with 4 hours a week of yard, yet using the Covid boogey man we are told “Covid” makes us so unsafe we can’t have our 4 hours of yard, as we have to “social distance.” The state has sold this Bill of Goods with great success sadly. They have managed to deceive even the agencies that look after prisoner rights (such as John Howard etc.) into standing by or even supporting outrageously fraudulent policy. I myself can tell you firsthand about just how absurd and comical I.D.O.C. policy can be, it would be comedy gold if the joke wasn’t on me or you.
When we were placed into “Quarantine” the first time back in January and February, people were actually at least sick, so it made a little sense, at least in theory. As with anything I.D.O.C. does it was run like shit and in a way that made no sense and in fact made the “Quarantine” totally ineffective and absolutely pointless. For one thing here at Robinson C.C. we are in 20 man dorms in 100 man wings in 200 man houses. We are stacked up like cord wood in the rooms and share a total living area smaller than an average home’s dining and living room. We all have to share 5 or 6 toilets (some are always broken) and one common shower. So when somebody became sick they would lock that whole wing down to attempt to contain the cold/virus. Sounds OK, other than the fact you’re essentially just making sure everyone on the wing gets sick, but it gets worse.
The correctional officers all would come and go between different wings, freely mingle with each other and pass out our trays coming onto the wings and into each and every room. These officers wore no masks and were not even subject to temperature checks. I personally saw officers sick as a dog come into work and pass out trays (I grieved this and documented it as well). While we were subject to a lockdown over this “flu” (which I am also certain was when Covid actually hit the joint despite the refusal of I.D.O.C. to test anyone here) the officers ran around spreading it thru every house and wing. We had to wait a couple weeks until people quit having 104 temperatures and fainting before the “quarantine” was lifted. Granted the lockdown was useless, but it was at least based on an existing illness and an attempt to deal with an existent problem.
The “Covid 19” pandemic has given the state a carte blanche pass to shit all over our rights, and they know it.
Right after Robinson got back to normal operations and was having no issues with mass illness the “Covid virus” started to wreak havoc on the rest of society. I.D.O.C. and the state got as many inmates shipped around en mass during the gap in “quarantines” as possible and they put a long term “quarantine” in place. I.D.O.C. indefinitely halted contact visits and locked us back into our houses indefinitely. At first they brought the food to us again, no masks yet for officers or inmates. I.D.O.C. and Robinson did not like the added cost of actually having to feed everyone it seems. This is when they decided suddenly it was safe to run chow lines again, with a theatrical flourish that we had to walk single file and sit 1 to a table. When I saw them pulling this silly stunt, yet not running yard I put in another grievance (I’ve been on their ass the whole time) pointing out that if it’s safe enough to run chow it’s safe enough to run yard. Clearly I.D.O.C. has to be aware that we are packed into dorms and it was totally pointless to have us play “social distancing” theater at the chow hall. This was never an effort to keep us safe, it was to save money on expenses during a lockdown/quarantine that I.D.O.C. knew was going to be long term.
Faced with the fact it was blatantly obvious that if we can walk to chow safely we could surely be out in the yard safely with the same people we are packed in with like sardines in the wing 24/7. Here at Robinson they begrudgingly started giving us yard, after all it was clearly nonsense that could be justified to run chow lines and not yard lines. So after arbitrary and useless “social distance” theatre guidelines, like only half the wing could go (50) at once, were put into effect it worked out where we only were going to get 1 hour a week of yard (I’m sure many men and women in I.D.O.C. go an even worse deal than this sadly). All this bullshit Quarantine and all the while no one’s sick, and the only people that have a chance to be exposed to “Covid 19” are the guards who don’t even wear masks at this point. So I grieved that if this lockdown is so serious the guards should also be on quarantine as well. Obviously the correctional officers union wasn’t going to go for this, but I wanted to show how pointless the whole thing was, and document it for future lawsuits. Lawsuits are the only way to get I.D.O.C. to respect us and our rights. As I said before if it is not either costly, or profitable, it is not important to the state or I.D.O.C. I encourage all of you to write grievances or anything you can when it comes to our rights being systematically violated.
Sadly, the most common response I’ve seen to this abuse from I.D.O.C. is people getting drugged by the state, staring at television and eating the gas station grade junk food that they sell prisoners. I.D.O.C. loves the fact that people can be literally drugged into submission legally with the stamp of approval of a doctor and then sat in front of a television that was sold to them at a tidy profit. I’ve watched the health deteriorate of so many people around me during this lockdown, even people who were fit are turning into fat slobs. I believe my refusal to buy a television and instead listen to radio and read has kept me active, I also refuse to be medicated. I’m sure they even manage to turn a profit off our medical problems and medication. Your personal disaster is always I.D.O.C.’s bread and butter. Clearly they must prefer us fat, unhealthy and drugged up and staring at television than fit, active, aware, empowered, and educated. The “Covid 19” pandemic has given the state a carte blanche pass to shit all over our rights, and they know it.
When I wrote this grievance pointing out how the correctional officers were the only ones who could get us sick suddenly they were wearing masks (or at least pretending to). Soon enough they gave us masks to protect themselves from potential lawsuits after Cook County Jail and a few prisons had outbreaks that could not be hidden from the public. The fact the only time we are forced to wear the mask is when we walk to chow or yard is a bitter irony, for it’s our only chance to breathe fresh air. I.D.O.C. and every guard and inmate in this jail know that the masks they issue us serve no purpose regarding our health, yet our families and the advocacy groups that are there to protect our rights have no idea that it’s a total farce. I’m sure many of you out there in different prisons have witnessed plenty of fraud as well, I for one want to know about it, and I want the whole world to know about it.
Too often the stress of systematic abuse and oppressive police and state policy is turned into a general state of rage and wasted in general on inmates fighting each other, racial violence and other useless and counterproductive and self destructive behavior, like drug abuse (voice of experience talking). The protests and riots going on right now are being made to sound race-based by the mainstream media, but I feel that’s a distraction and a way to divide the outrage all Americans should feel towards the police state the failed war ushered in. Sure police are often racist, but even racists should be against police corruption and overreach.
“Covid 19” and its legacy of empowering the police and prison state will either be a turning point in America as when freedom died once and for all, or when the collective rage of oppression burst forth to unite protestors to demand an end to senseless oppression.
The old adage “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” comes to mind here. Even rival gangs, and blatant racists can see that everyone is the loser if we can’t put aside our petty differences before it’s too late. A total surveillance and police state is already here, its brutal tactics and all-seeing eye are a threat to every man, woman, and child’s future. Robbing and burning down your local target isn’t going to do anything but justify the police state. We need effective litigation and massive group cohesion towards ending the main catalyst for the growing police state—the failed drug war, and the prison state. “Covid 19” and its legacy of empowering the police and prison state will either be a turning point in America as when freedom died once and for all, or when the collective rage of oppression burst forth to unite protestors to demand an end to senseless oppression. Stay at home orders were and are unconstitutional, and your first amendment rights have the power to smash down nonsense policy that has destroyed the economy and brought misery to so many. Everyone who’s now unemployed is a potential protestor, make use of your time. Spread the word to family and friends, let them know if the police state has its way we will all be prisoners. Fight for every right whether you’re on the “inside,” or the “outside.”
To end, I offer a quote from a true hero and founding father of America: “Those who would trade freedom for security lose both and deserve neither.”
Stop stuffing your face, turn off your T.V, spit out your unneeded medication, and reclaim your future, and your children’s future. Do it in memory of George Floyd.
Expose Not Exploit
Last Saturday, the documentary All These Sons premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, highlighting the power of the ConTextos’ Authors journey. And this Friday, June 18,…
HERSTORY: Celebrating the Women of ConTextos
Vanessa Kucera Office Manager Vanessa is our devoted Office Manager in Chicago who officially joined the team in 2020. As a hard-working Capricorn she helps…
HERSTORY: Celebrating the Women of ConTextos
dr. moore Facilitator/Coordinator of Literary Arts & Stories dr. moore is a conscious wanderer, consistent wonderer, originally from the south suburbs of Chicago and now…