Letter from Chuck B.: April 2020

This is the fourteenth installation of a column previously composed solely by MarQui Clardy Jr, one of our pen pals incarcerated at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center in Virginia.

This letter is by Chuck Bunnell who is in a federal prison.

Hello IAHR,

I just received your letter dated March 29th. Yes, now that the holidays are past, the mail seems to be getting around better. Though there are new concerns here about the mail. It won't affect you, as you are already doing it. We just got a new warden, and he is being a hard case about contraband on the compound. In here, there are a few things that we take for granted on the streets, that we no longer are able to have. Things like cell phones, cigarettes, thumb drives, and for those who are predisposed to them, drugs.

The warden has decided to crack down on our mail, to try and curb the amount of drugs coming onto the compound. We no longer are receiving mail. Letters sent in have to be single sided only, and they will copy only the first 5 pages, and give us the copy. To try and limit the drugs coming in through the mail. Of course the warden knows that the majority of the drugs and other contraband is not coming in through the mail. His guards are bringing them in and selling them to us. He knows this. But he doesn't want to crack down on his guards. So, he takes it out on us. Big surprise.

It is good that you are staying in. To protect yourself from this bug. I would hate to hear that you got sick. Especially how this bug is really hard on us more mature audiences. I am concerned about it as well, as I am over 50. And I have asthma, I used to smoke, and I have had pneumonia in the past. So, I am at risk too.

In here though, it is like living in a roadrunner cartoon. The guards have no idea what they are doing.

During the last 2 weeks of March. We were on a restricted schedule. Only 2 units went out to recreation for 2 hours. No meetings or classes, so our religious services went right out the window. We went to the chow hall for meals 3 times a day, again 2 units at a time.

Then the stuff hit the fan. April 1st, we went into total lock down. We don't go out of the units. We don't go to food service. No recreation. Nothing. Everything is done in the unit. The laundry comes to pick up our clothes in the units. Medical comes here for pill lines. Food is brought to the units. No T.V. Just stay in our rooms.

And let's talk about the food. We are no longer getting 3 hot meals a day. We get a box lunch for breakfast and dinner. And a hot lunch. The box lunches we are getting are past their expiration dates. Of which many have complained. Yet, that is what we are getting. The dinner box lunch for example. Has 4 slices of multi-grain bread (really low quality bread). We get a package of peanut butter (more than enough for 2 sandwiches). 2 jelly packages (which have no flavor, and if you use both of them, you barely have enough to make one sandwich). A drink package that flavors an 8 oz cup of water (and tastes like turpentine). And a small container of hummis (which is past its expiration date by over a month). They also give us a bottle of water and a piece of fruit. Not much of a meal to say the least. Breakfast is better. The box lunch has a bowl of bran flakes, and they give us a second bowl too. One cup of milk, a cereal bar, and a package of dunkin sticks (also multi-grain and dry as everything). And a piece of fruit. Lunch is at least warm, and what ever the menu calls for. Though it is served in a styrofoam serving container, so it has really small serving areas, and a bottle of water and a piece of fruit.

So, our meals are in our rooms. Where we are supposed to stay till they say so. They originally said it would be for 15 days. Though I doubt it. They are not getting a handle on this bug. And if they don't, I can see us in like this till August.

Of course the main concern is if a guard comes to work with it. Especially as you can have this bug for up to a week and not display any symptoms. If it does get in here. It wont matter that we are on total lock down. It will run through this place like it has the nursing homes out there. And the BOP doesn't have the equipment or training to treat this bug. Many of these guards are handing out our food, with out gloves or masks. So, all it takes is one.

I hope it doesn't get in here. However, it is only a matter of time till one of these guards gets it, and spreads it all around the compound before they know they have it.

I am glad you are taking precautions. At least you have the phone and internet to keep in contact with people. And out there, a lot of the companies are providing home delivery, to minimize contact. So, continue to be smart, be safe. Remember, I still NEED YOU. You are the one person that helps me to keep my sanity in here!

Social Distancing is a joke in here. We have 120 men living in a building that is probably smaller than your house. With virtually no air circulation. Social distancing can not be practiced in this situation. As your neighbors are only inches away, not feet. Fortunately, I have no roommate. That makes me feel better.

Sorry to unload on you. This situation has me concerned, and the actions that the BOP think they are doing to protect us, won't work. But, I understand.that there is only so much that can be done in a situation like this.

Be sate, and take care or your health. And hoping your family and friends do the same. Thank you for your letter. I hope to hear from you again soon.

Your Friend

Chuck Bunnell


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