April Harris, a 44-year-old inmate at a California women’s prison, tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-May. Since then she has battled a dry cough, but that’s not the bad part of being sick behind bars. The bad part, she says, is the atmosphere of neglect and chaos that has taken hold as the virus burns through the California Institution for Women, a 1,500-inmate prison in Riverside County owned and operated by the state. The bad part is listening to the screams of her fellow prisoners and her friends. “Someone is yelling for help over and over and over,” Harris wrote on May 20 in a running journal of her experiences, which she eventually shared with prisoner advocacy groups and The Chronicle through a prison email service called JPay. “No one is coming. This one is scaring me. She keeps screaming. It’s piercing.” Four days earlier, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, officials at the institution had transferred many infected prisoners to a part of the facility once used for training inmates to fight wildfires. There the prisoners have been quarantined in isolation, with little ability to leave their cells — even to take showers —… Read full this story
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