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"Social Distancing" from Within

From Jerry DeLemus March 30, 2020

I thought it would be of interest to post out the conditions of a prison which is also deemed a medical facility. We have been urged to keep the 6 foot social distancing for about two weeks. The work details have been limited and when they gather it is by inmates from the same housing unit. This has been done to try and keep a "distancing" between housing unit inmates. The reality the only way an inmate will contract the corona virus is either by the officers or staff. We have a hospital that is staffed by federal medical workers and private contractors and these would and could be a source for bringing in the virus. Our facility has a large number of men with diabetes and at all stages of treatment. This being a hospital prison there are a number of very ill inmates as of yet we do not have any known to have the virus. Approximately two weeks ago our facility had started moving inmates around from housing units to make quarantine zones for any future inmates infected. It is a difficult thing to keep social distancing in a prison as men are kept in units with a hundred or so other inmates. Our guards change shifts each 8 hours and I see a number of them working double shifts in the facility. They too have families they are concerned about and as this situation continues the stress will increase. We have just been told last night (3-29-20) that today staff will be issued masks and on Tuesday inmates will be provided masks. The mask types may be just the cloth masks and only effective to keep the wearer from spreading spittle. The Bureau of Prisons doesn't seem to like to release inmates so the efforts we read about inmates being sent to home confinement may be as much a reality as the latest bigfoot spotting. We'll see. It would make sense to send as many non-violent inmates home as possible to either be put on probation or home confinement. This would lower the requirements on the prison staff and also the chances of the spread of the virus. As I observe how the inmates behave and the staff conduct themselves it seems that if one inmate becomes ill it will spread like wildfire. This may be just the nature of the beast in a prison atmosphere as I know that there are limitations on what can be done. It seems most reasonable to send some inmates home as soon as possible. If a man goes home a year or two early in reality what does it hurt as they will eventually go home anyway. Our government tends to over sentence many of it's citizens to lengthy prison terms and maybe this pandemic will cause some to rethink this approach. I continue to pray for the inmates and the staff daily as well as you at home. We will get through this and there certainly is no need to panic. As my grandmother used to tell us "use horse sense". This too will pass. Semper Fi, (another "ambassador in chains"), Jerry

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At 8AM Tuesday, November 9, 2021 Jerry was released from FMC Devens prison to return home to his family and friends.

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