Lawmakers and leaders have been silent when it comes to the spike in infection at Stateville Correctional Center. The staff annual Christmas party quickly became a super spreader event of the ultra contagious omicron variant. Leading to the prison second full quarantine whereas there is no movement inside the prison. Human being are confine to their cells twenty four hours a day with a cellmate. People in here are completely broken psychologically and physically. Inside Stateville you have to deal with bad air, bad water, and bad food.
Stateville is one of the oldest maximum security prisons in Illinois which gives it a medieval look and feel once you step foot inside of it. Its dark, damp and dirty with depressing gray walls and a mildew smell thats thick and lingering to your nose. Its infested with cock roaches, mice and birds. There's no pest control that can contain these three carriers of infectious disease in there droppings. The outdated design of these old buildings have no modern ventilation system. We breath in all the thick dust from the dirty windows sills, bars, and pipes that run through each and every building. That is the reality of this prison for years and now we have to deal with living alongside the coronavirus.
In 2020 Stateville grabbed headlines by residents of the the prison taking up most of the ICU beds at the near by hospital. Thirteen human beings from here died alone in this foreign place away from family and love ones. The governor did an excellent job of rising to the occasion to provide us with the proper healthcare for the moment. However, after awhile it all started coming apart at the seams. The daily life of prison is hard enough but to have to be confine with another person in a cell measuring less than 50 square feet of gross space twenty four hours a day is an extra burden to your prison sentence. At times in the summer temperatures reach 100 degrees.
During this pandemic guys in these cells have not had any where to grieve their losses, the losses of close friends that they did years behind bars with that are suddenly gone from this invisible enemy. There is no where to grieve the losses of our family members that have died from the virus, there is no where to grieve the losses of family members that fell to gun violence to the streets. Three guys have had family members murdered in the last month. You can't even get any support from calling friends and family on the phone because there isn't enough phones to go around, a person is lucky to get one twenty minute phone call per day.
Lawmakers and leaders have to look at realistic ways to reduce the prison population. Everybody that studies the criminal justice system knows it is broken. Michel Foucault, a French man, wrote a book called Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of the Prison who confirmed what I am talking about-- that prisons do something very unique by their architecture and by their programming. What they do that no prisons have done before is that they imprison the soul. Never been before. It's been the modern, post-industrial era in which prisons imprison the soul. Prisons now are the main manufacturers of mental illness.
About the author: Lonnie Smith B00708, he's 56 years old and has been incarcerated for 33 long years and suffers from high blood pressure.
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Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive