2020-04-04: Facts in the BOP

I sent you this message at approximately 8:50 A.M. on Saturday, April 4th, 2020.

I think you will find the following facts interesting.

1. This is my fourth (4th) day wearing the same dental mask. I am not alone in this. Whatever protective value this non-N95 mask might have had on Wednesday, when the BOP issued it to me, it is now thoroughly saturated with whatever is in the air anyway. On camera, it now might look like the BOP has taken meaningful action to protect me. In reality, however, the agency is making me keep a dirty mask right up against my nose and mouth; and, if anything, this might be counterproductive.

2. The food schedule continues to deviate from the normal national 5-day menu and it's getting worse. I suspect somewhere on the complex, for example, there is a warehouse full of milk bought by the taxpayers that is simply rotting because since Wednesday, the BOP has instead issued its emergency powdered-milk supply. Now, if something truly bad happens, my concern would be that the real milk will have spoiled and the powdered milk will be depleted. There is little margin for error in the BOP's national menu. Missing a key item like milk would be a serious issue.

3. Staff continue to walk around with no masks. The one staff member who wore a mask yesterday brought it to work herself. So, there is a two-(2)-tier system. Prisoners---who have no contact with the outside---have to wear dirty masks for the cameras. Meanwhile, staff---who do have contact with the outside and are thus actually an epidemiological vector to spread the virus into the facility---wear no masks at all. There's a disproportionately-high number of sexagenarian and older prisoners in the CMU who are potentially especially vulnerable to Covid-19.

4. Mental-health staffers continue making rounds every weekday (and I cannot be sure that they will not make rounds on the weekends, as this is the first weekend day of the lockdown and it is early). I am fine during the lockdown since I always have plenty of work to keep me busy. (In fact, I was trying to enjoy some down time when I was forced to continue ongoing litigation of a separate Constitutional deprivation by Katherine Siereveld, Brian Lammer, et al.) I worry about others. Yesterday, education distributed a truly-pathetic 3-4 page pamphlet of rudimentary puzzles. That is about all that prisoners received to occupy themselves during a twenty-two-(22)-hour--per-day lockdown. Prisoners here are now on a spending limit of twenty-five dollars ($25) per week for most commissary items (stamps and over-the-counter medicines can be purchased without counting towards the limit). This means that prisoners cannot purchase radios, headphones, and other items that would help pass the time that cost more than $25. (Again, I am fine because I already have a radio. But, not everyone did, and it is now not possible to replace some things that may break.) Batteries count against the spending limit. Stationery counts against the limit. Pens count against the limit. Typewriter ribbons (which cost $7.85 here and do not last long) count against this limit. Bottled water counts against this limit and even the best tap water here is not so good (and the "tap" water in the SHU here remains an acute threat to immediate health). Indeed, even mouthwash, toothpaste, deodorant (remember prisoners are in close quarters), and dental-floss picks count against this limit. Meanwhile, as I said earlier, the meals are deteriorating and, of course, food items count against this limit. Prisoners already find themselves making tough decisions and tradeoffs with next week's order. And to begin with not everyone has money for commissary. Ironically, perhaps, I suspect that rather than the coronavirus, during the lockdown here mental health may be a more-acute danger.

5. The Bureau of Prisons was quick to suspend attorney visits but slow to stop prisoner transfers (and indeed it still has not fully halted prisoner transfers). Again, the staff continue coming in from the outside three (3) shifts per day without PPE. This all indicates to me the Bureau's true priorities. "Backwards on Purpose" indeed...