‘We’re All Really Scared’: Life In Federal Lockup During COVID-19

“We have run out of toilet paper, we have run out of pads. We’ve had no soap for our bathrooms. It is crazy. We get out one time a day for 10 minutes.”

By Christopher ConnellyApril 13, 2020 12:08 pm, , , , ,

From KERA:

Update 4/12/2020 at 8:57 pm:

Since KERA first reported this story, Mendy Forbes, an inmate at Federal Medical Center Carswell, was put into administrative segregation, more commonly known as solitary confinement.

Her father, Gene Estes, says it was punishment for speaking to the media about conditions inside the prison and the fears she and other inmates have about coronavirus spreading. He says the news is upsetting, and that his daughter wasn’t trying to make the prison look bad.

“I think the main reason she [spoke out] is that she’s really scared for her life, and scared for the other people she’s in there with,” Estes said. “I don’t see why she’s being punished for trying to help herself and other people.”

Requests for comment from FMC Carswell and the Federal Bureau of Prisons were not returned Sunday evening.

Also, the bureau’s coronavirus tracker shows a second inmate has tested positive at the prison.

Life on lockdown is frustrating and scary, according to Mendy Forbes. She’s serving time at Federal Medical Facility Carswell – it’s a prison with more than 1,600 women who have special medical and mental health needs.

“We have run out of toilet paper, we have run out of pads,” she said. “We’ve had no soap for our bathrooms. It is crazy. We get out one time a day for 10 minutes. We walk to the chow hall, we get hot lunch and we come back with bologna every night.”

All 146,000 people locked up in federal prisons are living life under a two-week lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus. More than 280 inmates and 125 workers across the federal prison system have tested positive. Eight have died.

Courtesy Mendy Forbes

Mendy Forbes, an inmate at Carswell, says conditions at the prison facility are frustrating and scary.

She said tensions are high after more than a week without recreation or activities. There are about 250 women in her housing unit but only about 120 chairs, she said. They sleep four to a cell and less than three feet apart. Everyone’s expected to wear the same disposable mask every day. The phones are in pretty heavy use but Forbes hasn’t seen anyone sanitize them.

“Basically I just wiped it off on my shirt hoping not to get it. We are not implementing anything that should be implemented,” she said.

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