NOTE: This update was written on 7/19/2020 and received on 7/23/2020
Home stretch — 90 days to go! It felt really good to get down into the double digits on 7/10, and now I’m finally into the final quarter. I’m staying busy and still have more books than anyone can reasonably be expected to read in 3 months but that’s a good problem to have. It seems that stuff is still kinda crazy out there — please stay safe, everybody!
More than 2⁄3 done now and less that 4 months to go. Things are OK for the time being, it seems, tho we still can’t social distance and those of us whose sentences stretch into the fall and beyond, like myself, are worried about a second wave. Taking it day by day, not unlike many of you I’m sure. Stay safe out there!
NOTE: This update was written on 5/13/2020 and received on 5/20/2020
Hey Everyone, still here. Most sentenced inmates were released the last week of March, but there are still 150 of us on the island, in addition to the 4000 detainees. Our dorm was much less crowded for a little while, but DOC has been moving lots of us into one crowded dorm again in the past couple weeks. There are about 30 of us now so it’s impossible to social distance again. Most of the surfaces people touch in the public areas of the building are never sanitized, and only about half of DOC staff are wearing masks. They gave us all knockoff 400 game-in-1 Gameboys, though, so we should be fine.
I’ve been told I’ve been approved for release to home confinement with an ankle monitor but it’s been over a month and there’s been no news, or even any indication of when there might be news. Supposedly the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the DOC are working on it. It would be great if they actually were, and I know people on the outside are working to keep the pressure up (thank you !), but for my own peace of mind, I’ve turned my focus back to October. I’m over the hump now — only 5 months to go! Still getting & lovoing your mail, just behind on responding to it because things have been kinda crazy in here. Take care out there!
NOTE: This update was written on 3/23/2020 and received on 3/27/2020
Hope you’re staying safe & sane out there! Things have gotten hectic in here. As public health officials, including the current and former top doctors for DOC [Department of Corrections], and even COs, off the record, will tell you — the DOC cannot possible prevent or contain this outbreak without taking immediate steps to drastically reduce the inmate population. They are very slowly releasing people, but not nearly enough, and not nearly fast enough. They almost NEVER provide us with sufficient or appropriate cleaning supplies. They post signs advising us to stay 6 feet apart and then move even more people into an already crowded 48-bed dorm, including people, as we later found out, who had been tested for coronavirus in their previous housing unit. The DOC moved them into our dorm before their test results came back. Less than 24 hours later they were moved out because their results were positive. Captains and Deputy Wardens give us the usual lies, non-answers and obfuscations. Yesterday, my dorm and the dorm across the hall carried out a 24-hour meal and work strike to protest these conditions and to demand the immediate release of all inmates 50 and older, all inmates with chronic health issues, all parole violators, and all inmates with less than a year remaining, as recommended by the Board of Corrections itself. In response, DOC provided us with cleaning supplies, PPE, and promised regular screenings — but these are things they should have been doing for weeks anyway.
This is a huge problem for incarcerated folx, of course, but it’s also a public health issue. If the virus continues to spread in here, it will serve as a resevior for the disease to reinfect the community, outside through COs and other staff, who come and go everyday, and inmates returning home, long after the curve is flattened outside.
Other than that I’m holing up OK. Trying to to say busy & stay healthy.
Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I’ve been flooded with cards and letters wishing me a happy birthday for the past week, and it’s been really awesome to get so much support.
You know what else is awesome? Punk shows. Especially when they’re for your post-release fund. I’m so humbled and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. Events like this are super-important, not only to support people in my position, but to bring our community closer together, strengthen our movement. I hear it was a really great time and included dancing rabbis, among other things. Many thanks to the organizers, everyone who attended, and all the bands that played. I can’t wait to check out your music when I get out!
If I can just ask one thing, it’s that you please not make a hero of me. Please continue to give me the love and support you’ve been so great about giving this far — I can definitely use it — but let it be from a place of mutual aid, from a place that recalls that I’m just a dude who got caught. “Hero” doesn’t sounds like a fun position to be in, and in all seriousness, if you put me in it, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Just seems like a good time to say that.
Hitting the ⅓ mark a few days after my birthday and looking forward to it. Staying busy reading, writing and translating.
Thanks again for everything! See you soon!
Update: Despite the qualifications in this message, David will be able to respond to all letters. He’s got more time on his hands so please write to him!
Happy belated New Year! I’m still doing OK in here, and rounding the first corner on my time right about now — 1/16/20 is exactly 9 months before my release.
They moved us out of EMTC, the only facility for sentenced inmates on Rikers, on 1/7/20. Despite the fact that we moved literally across the street to RNDC (C-74), the process took over 12 hours, well over half of which was spent in holding cells with no food and no working toilets, or handcuffed together in the back of a bus. So that was fun.
RNDC is better by some measures, and I’m starting to settle into a new routine here, which is great because that’s what makes the time fly. The main drawback is that this facility is used to house adolescent detainees, not solely sentenced inmates like EMTC. Some of these kids are likely to do long stretches upstate, and looking to make a name for themselves within the prison system. They often don’t have the same incentive to behave as folx who are going home soon, and we’re mixed in with them in the visiting waiting area and on the visiting floor. I haven’t had any problems and I don’t plan to, but it’s an extra source of stress for those of us sentenced inmates who get visits. It’s also probably illegal (it’s definitely illegal for them to house us together), but of course the DOC does what it wants.
I was able to stay on top of my mail and actually respond to everyone who included a return address up until about Christmas. I’ve had so much love pouring in it’s impossible for me to respond to it all! I’ll write back as much as I can, but if you don’t get a response, please forgive me. Please keep it coming! Every letter I receive brings a smile to my face — and as a bonus, I can use it to line my paper-thin mattress. And THANK YOU to everyone who’s taken the time to drop me a line. It’s been really humbling and helps keep me sane.
I’m still staying safe and staying busy. My new schedule in RNDC seems to allow me more time to work on writing and translation, so I’m trying to take advantage of that.
Take care out there. See you soon!