Prison Life Propagandized
by ALBERT TOWNSEND

The governor, the director of the MDOC and all staff and prison officials propagandize prison life. But now the time has come for them to be exposed. Society needs to hear what really goes on behind the walls.

I am a representative of Helping Those Left Behind (HTLB) and the creator of The Freeman Camp (Freeing men from the inside+out=free). Hopefully, I can be a part of this movement as well.

I am willing and ready to support anybody who will stand and fight for equality for inmates and returning citizens. Personally, my experience in the system has been an extensive one. I've been here for 13 years. However, I have served three other prison terms. This is my fourth time coming to prison. In prison vernacular it's referred to as a, "D-Prefix". There's 26 letters in the alphabet and when one is tried, convicted, and sentenced to a prison term s/he is labeled with a number and a prefix - starting with A-Prefix for first timers. So of course, I have a lot to say, but that's going to take some time to write and put together.

However, I will share a bit of my experience with testing positive for Covid-19. On or around May 12, 2020, I began to notice my ability to taste and smell was diminishing. Plus, I started having headaches more frequently. At this time the Covid-19 virus was already on the compound and infecting inmates, correction officers and staff. Health Care nurses began making rounds taking temperatures and checking oxygen levels. I was checked and asked by the nurses how I felt. I replied, I think I have a cold or something? They told me my vitals were normal and that they would come back and check on me. Eventually, I would test positive for Covid-19.

As the disease began to spread throughout the entire compound, the administration began to quarantine each unit. Isolating and locking in infected inmates with non-infected inmates with little to no PPE. As more and more inmates began getting sick, the prison started taking inmates to segregation to isolate/quarantine them. They forced inmates to pack up all of their property leaving us with insufficient hygiene and change of clothing.

I was being treated as an unruly, non-compliant inmate. I was denied adequate showering and exposed to unsafe living conditions, putting my life in danger all because I was sick. The National Guard was brought in to do testing on the entire compound. Yet, staff and corrections officers were not tested. Of course, my test results came back positive. For the next three and one half weeks, I was forced to live in an ideal environment for spreading infectious disease. I was continuously being exposed to the virus because correction officers and staff were not required and/or mandated to take the Covid-19 test. Therefore, they were able to contaminate and pass the virus throughout the prison. Shakedowns were performed without guards switching gloves or sanitizing the environment between inmates.

Because of their mismanagement, neglect, and inability to follow CDC guidelines, there were at least 54 deaths in the MDOC including two of my close friends. To make matters worse, I believe I was deliberately lied to about antibody testing. One morning they announced that Health Care would be coming to take blood from me and all the inmates in the quarantined unit. When they began taking blood I asked, what this for? They replied, "For antibodies". However, when I didn't get those test results back, I began asking and requesting my lab test results. I got a written response from Health Care stating, "Anyone who was positive for Covid-19 did not get tested for antibodies". So, why was it taken?

As Covid-19 cases rise in society, I am still at risk because staff and correction officers continue to leave their shifts, go home and potentially contaminate the prison compound when they return to work. I've filed grievances on these issues/violations of my 8th, 4th and 14th Amendment  Rights. I am currently waiting on a response from Lansing as I have exhausted my administrative remedies. I have been rejected at each step of the grievance process because the purpose of the grievance process is to offer redress for violations of policy or procedures by staff. You tell me how many violations do you see after reading this? These violations and many, many more are a common practice in the MDOC. Knowing as I do the difficulty of seeing and experiencing what most people in society insists does not exist, I realize that mine and many other stories will be met with skepticism - they always have been until now. The system is designed for us to lose at all cost. That is the system of mass incarceration. It is based on the prison label, not prison time.

Lastly, but not least, I close with a quote from the book, "The New Jim Crow", by Michelle Alexander page 16.... “Once swept into the system, one's chances of ever being truly free are slim, often to the vanishing point. Defendants are typically denied meaningful legal representation, pressured by the threat of lengthy sentences into a plea bargain, and then placed under formal control—in prison or jail, on probation or parole. Upon release, ex-offenders are discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, and most will eventually return to prison. They are members of America’s new undercaste.”