Update from Wayland Coleman, April 29


[ Transcript below | listen on Soundcloud ]

All right. So it’s been a while since everybody’s heard from me, verbally. And right now I just wanted to talk about what’s been on my mind, the coronavirus. So I’m gonna try to at least speak to, you know, maybe once a week or twice every couple of weeks because you know, nobody really knows how much time any of us really have right now. 

And so no, I don’t know what’s gonna happen with us over the next month or two months or three months or whatever. So, you know, we came to the coronavirus showing up in residence and, you know, we’re not in the best environment despite what our government says. So I don’t know if I get sick, can I die from it? possibly. I have heart issues. I have a history of pneumonia. So I don’t have the strongest right lung. So, um, like I said, we never know. And so I can explain as I can. But who knows. And so I just want to share a few of my thoughts. 

One of the things that’s kind of been upsetting me is that the way our government incarcerated has been like put on the forefront right now. And when you have the people who have the authority and the powers to release people from correctional institutions– that they call it, correctional– when they fail to use those powers in this type of situation, and pretty much let us all sit here with the potential of really dying. It says a lot about a lot of the things that I’ve been talking to you about in regards to the dehumanization of incarcerated people. 

One of the things that Baker said that’s really been sitting on my mind for a while, is that you know, with that we’re better off inside of the prison, And that’ll be the furthest thing from the truth. Different prisons got different types of environments but I don’t think any prison is a good place to be. If that’s the case then you know, why not swap spots with me, you know? Let me go home and you come up in the prison if you think they’re so safe. And so one of the things with that statement is that you know, you got a place like Gardner that’s where I’m currently housed. Gardner is the very ideal environment that they .tell people to not be in. Don’t be in a dorm setting, especially close close quarters with you know, you’re away from people don’t share facilities like we have three things for forty people. I’m sure nobody has been encouraged to do that. You know, share one thing with every person maybe once or twice a day. You know that the very thing that telling you not to do. 

So we’re in that type of environment and those are some things I wanted to point out just to give an example of you know, how unsafe This place is in this particular pandemic situation. So just just to give you some insight in a way that I have to live in a dorm, so I’m in one building. We’ve been locked in this building for about a month or more, and we haven’t been able to go outside. We can’t go out fresh air to stretch our legs or anything. So this building that I’m housed in has 80 people. So there are two floors. So you got a first and second floor, and each floor is a dorm that we live in. 

So each floor holds about 40 people. So I live upstairs on the second floor, in a dorm setting with about 40 people. In that dorm, we have one bathroom shared with all of us is three sinks per bathroom. So it’s three sinks that we’re sharing. We have five phones for 80 people. We have one shower for 80 people. We have both living quarters. So my living quarters 60 square foot of space is shared by about six people. 
And so that’s how close we are.

So we don’t have, we can’t possibly practice in a way that we have to live here. And so we get these memos from the commissioner’s office telling us, you know, it’s a practice safe distancing, all they’ve given us so far as hand sanitizers. And they’ve only recently gave it given us one mask. So they’ve given us one mask about four days ago. And there’s no knowledge or whether or not they’re going to give us you know, a new mask every week or what it is or is that one mask is supposed to last the duration of pandemic, who knows? But they gave us one disposable mask, the light blue hospital mass. And that’s it. 
And then they put out these demos and hey, just try to stay six feet away from each other. And like I said, it’s just not possible. That’s not possible because I sleep less than six feet away from people. 

So so we’re in trouble. And the thing that they’re banking on is the fact that there hasn’t been any cases in Gardner yet and so I think that because our so called state leaders are saying that you know, there’s no cases in Gardner yet and you know, there’s no need to start thinking about releasing people. I think it’s a bad idea to have a reactionary type of mentality at this point, because if the case hits this prison– when it hits this prison– because I believe we’re gonna get, it’s hit illogical and unreasonable to assume that you know, this prison isn’t gonna get any cases of coronavirus throughout this entire pandemic. 
So when we get hit, there’s not gonna be any way possible to stop the spread of this virus, it’s gonna go like wildfire and a lot of us ain’t gonna make it. 

And so what I’ve been trying to do with this is somehow put pressure on our state system to try to act for the prisons. And you can already see this, you know, what 70 cases as of yesterday in Framingham, this was there was 106* cases reported yesterday at Shirley, so it’s coming. 

And so I was actually hoping for some type of action before that happened, because it now they’re not going to want to release anybody. And then they find their justification for not wanting to release anybody. And so right now, what is the justification for not releasing?
We’re in a dorm setting. And the only way to make it even possible for the practice is to release people trapped and decrease the population because other than that I can’t stay away from. There’s a guy next to me on the phone, he’s only about three to four feet away from me right now. That’s not six feet. The phones, and remember, we have five phones. so it doesn’t not matter. 

So those are some of the things I just want to point out about our living environment. Another thing that has been concerning me, we have the staff preparing our food. So they serve us in every day. The staff makes the food and then they bring it in, you know, some of the individuals in the unit pass out the food. So I haven’t eaten any any of it with the exception of anything that comes in a wrapper, or fruit. Things that come in the wrapper are hand sanitized and the fruit is washed. And sometimes I’ll let it sit for days before I eat any of it, and I haven’t eaten and of the meals that’s been prepared by staff. And the reason for that is staff are the only way we’re going to get infected. And so I feel that if they prepare enough, then it increases our likelihood of getting an infection at some point.

So I survive essentially off whatever I have in canteen. That’s the kind of what’s going on in the world. 

How is , how do you say, the mental environment is going? There’s a lot of frustration, because it’s one thing that we’re locked in this building, we can’t go outside at all. So we’ve been locked in his building. And we have a rec room where, you know, we can play pool cards or something like that. And what they recently started doing was when they bring medications into the unit, they started using our rec area as the medication area. So what they do is they kick everybody out in order to do meds.

Now this is also our shower area. Now, when they do meds they have sometimes they can take up to an hour to get the meds done. So they come around seven o’clock sometimes a little later, and then they leave eight o’clock sometimes a little later. So this interferes with our shower time. We only have one shower time and interferes with our recreation because they kick us out. 

So one of the problems is that the so-called quarantine is becoming more punitive for us. It’s supposed to be a strategy to prevent the spread of coronavirus or to help us, but, you know, a cop will always be a cop. You know? And so it still becomes punitive. Because now, you know, it’s the barking orders, you know, taking our recreation and taking our shower time and stuff like that. 

So there’s been a lot of frustration growing. And this frustration is good for me, because I like organizing. And so we are willing to try to come together a little bit to make our voices heard because, you know, like I say, we don’t know how much time we got. If coronavirus hits this prison, unfortunately, a lot of people is not going to make it. There’s a lot of people with health issues living, you know, three feet away from each other, four feet away from each other. And so a lot of people won’t make it. 

So we’re willing to raise our voices a little bit and then some action that you’ll be seeing soon enough. Once that happens, though, the thing is, I don’t know if we’re capable of convincing this government that incarcerated people need to be released. Massachusetts want to hold on to us, you know, and even more so with so-called “violent crimes”, you know, anything constitutes a violent crimes. You have a guy who got sent back to prison recently because he was in possession of a firearm. Allegedly. And that constitutes a violent offense, mere possession of a weapon. And so he wouldn’t be free. So under a non-violent crime bill, just because he has a gun. And so his sentence along with all of our sentences has the potential to be a death sentence. And it’s only because, you know, they don’t want to let people go. 

So I think one of the things we do need to take note of right now is that every single sentence right now, everybody serving time in state prison is currently serving the death penalty. Right? Whether or not your death penatly date will come is the question, but every single conviction, I argue has been converted to a death sentence. I wasn’t sentenced to die, but I could, and a lot of other people, you got people, you know, they’re supposed to go home in two or three years, they wouldn’t even fall under this bullshit guideline of trying to release people close to you, you know, a six month wrap up period. I mean, are you kidding me? 

So the person who’s supposed to go home next year, don’t don’t even count. So that person can die, you know, because he’s not so close to wrapping up? So that’s the problem with Massachusetts. They want every single piece of fucking time you know, if we can get a extra minute out of us, they want that minute. And yet they just want to squeeze as much time as they can possibly squeeze out of us. And I think that’s inhumane in itself. So every sentence is converted into a death sentence. 

So my question is, what are people going to do about that? So we all have death sentence. I know people don’t really know, put us on a pedestal have been important. You know, one of the one of the things that I’m still trying to fact check whether or not Baker said, is that, you know, “let’s be mindful that good people out here are dying”, when it came to the question of whether you should release people in prison. And, you know, I was told he made a statement that good people out there are dying. 

And so, there’s all kinds of problems with that, because, you know, if our lives are not valuable, right, if we’ve forfeited all value of living regardless of what we were incarcerated for, we completely just forfeited the value of our lives. Then what was the whole point of the entire so-called judicial system or justice system? 

What’s the point of a person being sentenced to three to five? When his life ain’t worth it anyway. So why not just lined us all up against the wall and just, you know, put bullets in us? Because that’s kind of like what that suggests. So it also suggests that everybody’s guilty. So, what about people like myself who are not? You know, people who’ve been railroaded, people who’ve been misjudged, you know? 
I was a 19 year old black kid, being judged by an all white jury. So what about those in the 90s, where white people were completely afraid of black teenagers? So I mean, how fair was my trial? So what happens when people have in justices andthey’re trapped in these cages. 

And you know, this is not their fault. You know, they were captured by the police force them in the situation, then you say, well they lived in this zone that, you know, the criminal justice system is free of human error. No, it’s a perfect system, you know, everybody that the court convicts, that the jury says is guilty is guilty. That jurors understand the law so well, and the procedure so well, that they’re free of ever making any type of error because these middle class white people essentially know everything so they can never be wrong. So our lives are not valuable because they said so. 

So I just think there’s all kinds of problems with that statement and with the situation that we’re in. We’re just not getting a fair shot at fending for ourselves and taking care of our lives. So right now my life is completely in the hands of being locked in this fucking building. And hopnig that a case of coronavirus don’t enter this building. Because I can’t go nowhere, they lock the doors on me so I can even try to run outside. 

So my life is in the hands of hoping that these cops are clean enough to not bring that shit in. And so yeah, I’m a little pissed off about that, because I don’t want my life to be in their hands. I’d rather take my chances out there. 

So yeah, so just a few thoughts I wanted to share, because you know, it isn’t a good place to be in. It isn’t the best place, as Baker would say, for us to be in. Again, if that’s the case, then why don’t you take my spot and I’ll take my chance our there?So I’m venting a little bit. That’s really all. We talk about a lot of stuff in here. I’m still trying to encourage these guys in here to stand up and be willing to fight, I mean who cares if you piss off the cop, you they’re potentially killing you anyway.

So yes, I really don’t care to piss them off. So, so that’s just my thought for now and like I say, I know I’m venting a little bit but I think you guys should hear some of what we’re going through inside of here and see what happens with that and I’m gonna keep pushing to get out of the prison and I’m gonna do my best to stay safe in here. So you’ll hear from me again. And so, I hope you guys take note of what I’m trying to say, that you know, we are people so please remember that.

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