Prisoners Write on Coronavirus Pandemic

“the crisis brought about by Covid-19 is bringing to light the sharp contradictions of this Capitalism/Imperialist system”



We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere on our site.

From a prisoner in Texas:


I appreciate the response and packet yall sent me. I also would like to apologize for the late response. My excuse being that, it’s been difficult for me to stay focused lately. The mental torture that comes with being locked up be getting to me at times. I’ve been spending more time “zoned-out,” reflecting on my life and on the past when I know I should be studying and writing.

But I’m trying to snap out of it and got back in the mode. So please forgive me for the tardiness.

With that being said, in response to the question [in a letter from the Prisoner Revolutionary Literature Fund]: “Should ‘congregating’ be encouraged under those circumstances?” No. like you said, people shouldn’t be out there partying right now while all this is going on. You see, what came to mind when they started restricting congregating, was the activism and protesting, because of what was already going on, you know, protesting the system and the Trump/Pence regime. This year being an election year and after the whole impeachment fiasco, I expected mass movements out there manifesting with greater intensity. Now what I see is that this virus has fallen on the fascist regime now as a blessing or a curse.

I say blessing because they can take the opportunity to further solidify their power and position. It’s their convenient excuse to openly implement their fascist measures in “response” to the crisis. Now that we most urgently need to take to the streets in mass movement to oppose this system and regime, the fascists have their excuse to repress further dissent and civil disobedience.

That’s why I said what I said about “congregating.” I was thinking more on the movement than anything else, wondering how it will affect it. See I understand what you saying though, that some restrictive laws are needed and that it’s not always wrong. But that’s just it, sometimes they’re wrong and sometimes that is needed. In this case I guess it’s vital so that the virus won’t just spread like wildfire.

But like I’ve been mentioning, my thoughts on how these new restrictive laws will affect the mass movement to oppose this system and the Trump/Pence regime. And that goes with what I said about this being a blessing or a curse to the system and the fascist regime. The curse being that the crisis brought about by COVID-19 is bringing to light the sharp contradictions of this Capitalism/Imperialist system. It’s exposing every crack and contradiction. People from all walks of society, from poor to middle class to the labor aristocracy are being affected by this. Where how the question of the legitimacy of this system is coming to the minds of people who otherwise wouldn’t think of questioning the legitimacy of this system. Now can possibly be a chance to bring more people to the side of Revolution. The pendulum can swing both ways though. Yes we will have more supporters for Revolution but the ranks of the fascist camp will swell as well. We must get ready for all that, cause we might be at a decisive point in human history, I don’t know. It’s looking that way. I’m not trying to jump to conclusions. I understand I need to be patient and see how things develop. But patterns and evidence seem to point that way.

Well I don’t want to get off topic. But I know you asked two other questions, the 1st “how should our ‘team of scientists’ come at coronavirus”? I’m not sure how to answer that question. And the second question on why is the system and the Christian fundamentalist assaulting women’s reproductive rights? It’s all a matter of control, isn’t it? It’s how male patriarchy is enforced, and it’s how they try to keep women subservient and it’s like there’s no real legitimate reason other than control and the enforcement of a outmoded, outdated form of thinking. One that is intertwined and upholds this system of oppression in which we are forced to live under. It’s a form of thinking that helps harbor other forms of thinking like greed and domination which is a favorable form of thinking for a system such as capitalism/imperialism.

I hope I’m making sense, but that’s what I get out of it, as in that’s the conclusions I come to when analyzing the subject.

Well, I guess I’ll end this letter here. I hope it gets to yall soon. Oh yea, one more thing, I’m getting into this article yall just sent me dated April 6 called “Initial notes on what we confront - contours, contradictions, and crises.” There’s a lot of essential, important information and a lot of the questions asked are the same ones im asking. But the whole analysis is really on point.

Well anyway, I’m a hurry up now and send this letter out. Stay safe, Stay on Point!

PS. Also, I’m sure yall wanted to know as to the conditions we live under inside this prison. Well they’re horrible, Texas prisons are among the most primitive and backwards out of all the prisons in the United States. They are human warehouses, no A/C, no nothing, we live among the elements. They don’t provide us with no cleaning supplies. We are not provided with any bleach or disinfectant. We have to steal the bleach and any other cleaning material that they keep for themselves. The most they give us is 5 tiny green soaps. The kitchen is highly unsanitary. It falls under being condemned.

Since the COVID-19 hit, it took an extra 2 months for them to start enforcing us to wear a mask. They got a fellow inmate come around and spray a little bleach water here and there. But thats it. They try to implement social-distancing, but you know that’s impossible here in prison. So their efforts are really laughable and annoying.

I don’t know if any has caught that shit over here, being that this is a Death Row unit. To keep quiet about things like that is in their best interest.

It’s only a matter of time before the virus hits this prison. Also, I remember hearing my neighbor complain to an officer he was feeling sick, only to be told that he must send a sick call request to medical, (which take about a week to get a response). Just an example of how little the officers care about us.


From a prisoner in Pennsylvania:

Let me tell you about what is going on within PA DOC at this time. The entire PA DOC has been under a quarantine for almost a month now. Programming and chapel services are suspended indefinitely. We are stuck in our cells for all but a 40 minute rec period consisting of shower, phone, kiosk, and side yard. A limit of 8 cohorts are permitted out at any given time. We are receiving room service style meals though, and all but 1 is hot. Visits are being done via Skype, who have a temporary contract with the DOC. Visits this way come at a fee. That fee is roughly $10.00 per 45 minute visit. The DOC is giving each prisoner 5 free phone calls and 5 free emails per week, and has increased our calorie intake by 500 calories. Here and there, we are getting treats such as free ice cream and snack cakes. The DOC has a new feature on its website which discloses to the public how many cases of COVID-19 are found at each prison. So far SCI XXX has 30+ cases. I heard the nurse talking just today about how the official count is inaccurate. The actual count is much worse. Here at SCI XXX they are testing a method of stopping the spread. 4 cellblocks are on complete lockdown status, and if that is effective in stopping the spread, it will become standard protocol in the entire facility. Growing unrest is occurring and I can be certain that a riot will soon erupt or at best a mass hunger-strike in protest of all of this. Medical care is at its all time worst, with care providers retaliating for continued sick calls they have to deal with. Basic health care requests are treated with contempt and come with a stern lecture about “bothering” the medical staff with non-emergent needs. It’s sickening the way these people treat us. But, most are content with the “appeasement” by providing free food, phone calls, cable and other distractions. Only a few of us are revolutionary minded and are ready for revolt.


From a prisoner in Illinois:

I’m writing in response to this coronavirus and how this institution is dealing with it. We’ve basically been on some form of lockdown for over a month, fortunately no one here has tested positive.

It was funny when this whole thing started. To hear the staff follow Fox News talking points, saying this whole thing was just a hoax and that they weren’t worried about any of this and then when people in other institutions started getting sick they changed their tune.

They’ve taken some measures to prevent us from catching this virus, but of course all of them don’t add up. They started taking the officers temperatures every day before letting them in the building, and finally gave them masks to wear. They also came and took our temperatures every day for two weeks.

The downside is we’ve been locked down and let out only for a phone call and a shower, no cleaning supplys have been issued, and people suspected of being sick are being put in seg.

The thing that makes the least amount of sense is the added contact with the staff. When the prison is not on lockdown, we handle the cooking and passing out of food, the commissary, and the ice. Now all of these things are being done mostly by staff, and they know they are our only risk of catching this virus. So our fate is in the hands of people who don’t believe in science, and think they are invincible, so we’ll see how this all turns out.


The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less!

Episode 3: Science and the New Communism, Prisons and COVID-19

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

“You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics.”

Order the book HERE
Download the book in ePub format HERE

See also:

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

  • Bob Avakian on Revolution and the Coronavirus Pandemic
  • What IS the Corona virus COVID-19 and what do scientists know about this?
  • How is the capitalist-imperialist system making the effect of the Coronavirus worse than it has to be?
  • How do the “savage inequalities” of the system play out in the way this virus affects different sections of people? Who does it come down the worse on, and why?
  • How would the revolution handle the coronavirus or similar epidemics if it held state power?
  • How are people resisting here and around the world? What should we be doing now?

Read more


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