Earlier this month, Andrea Portillo, an inmate at Perryville State Prison in Arizona, shared her experience with postpartum psychosis with Hard Crackers. She tells us what it’s like inside her facility during the pandemic.
What is it like for you in Perryville State Prison right now?
We are doing a whole lot of nothing. There used to be classes. We don’t even get church services right now. All of these things have just shut down. We are all waiting. People are getting antsy. Just like people out there protesting, it’s the same here.
They will put things on the news that in the men’s prison there were 25 cases, but they aren’t sharing how many prison guards got it. They are already under-staffed as it is. It’s going to cause chaos here. There is no such thing as social distancing in prison or jail. We are all living together.
Everyone has to eat in the kitchen. The lines. We are sharing rooms together. We are next to each other constantly. They gave us one bar of soap. They say they are giving us free soap but I’m not seeing the free soap. If I run out of toilet paper, they check the room to make sure we have run out of toilet paper, and then you have to sign something just to get a roll of toilet paper. Now they have started twice a week to spray sanitizer on the sink. Why aren’t they spraying our room twice a week with sanitizer anyways?
If there was to be an outbreak here, they give us the minimum medical treatment. Unless you are literally dying, they don’t treat you. So, they wouldn’t be able to deal with an outbreak.
Only some officers are wearing a mask and some aren’t. I’m not worried about myself, but I do have a lot of friends that have asthma and it could affect them.
Unfortunately I heard that the facility is going to be closed until May 30th. No visitors, no church. It’s hard being here when my family is out there. You want to be with your family in this kind of time, so I’m stressed about that. I want to be with my Grandma. We could practice social distancing with visitors. We could wear masks and they could come in with masks. We could practice it more with visitors than with prison guards.
I have a friend who lost her child through mental illness, and she is having a really hard time. Our visitors are our escape from prison. They don’t realize that. So it’s so hard to have three months of no visits.
We do have tablets, but they charge you for everything. For email. There are supposed to be video visits right now, but they don’t even have it working. I don’t think it will be available until summer time.
Any other thoughts on being at Perryville during this outbreak?
It’s a sad attempt to care for our safety. Putting bleach on our sink and giving away soap is not preventing anything. It’s kind of a joke. I don’t think they take it seriously. Apparently the governor gave them money for cleaning supplies, but we haven’t seen any of that. We should have hand sanitizer. We should have some kind of cleaning solution, but we haven’t seen any of that.