Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Women's Prison Officer Staffing Shortages Halt Inmate Programming and Cause Lockdowns

This is the worst it has been through my entire 17 year time in prison

The excuses are numerous but the problem is singular. Not enough correctional officers to run the prison. When officer levels fall below a minimum number, things begin to close. The inmate population was told to expect this in October 2021. However, now the reality and the results are devastating. The list of excuses is endless. Holidays, retirement, early retirement, scheduled vacations, and my all-time favoritem the Covid-19 positives among staff (Whom still get their pay while out sick at home). Who can argue with that one?

Many officers have retired, some early. Lots of them schedule their vacations on either Christmas or July 4th. Plus, within the past 2 weeks, 47 staff members from various departments have tested positive for Covid-19. That sidelines these staff, with pay, of course. Now, we don't know just how many of them are officers or nursing staff, etc. So, we can only look at officer shortages to piece together the puzzle.

On a side note, CIW's prison nurse shortages are also happening. The prison medication line, which usually takes 5-10 minutes, took me 45 minutes on Friday evening. This is becoming the norm. It's a huge strain on going to classes and our mental health. The other night, 3 women jumped another woman at the pill line because she protested them cutting in the long line! This fight locked down the prison the rest of the night. The type of tension and stress over long lines is no excuse but medical staffing issues contributed to this chaos for sure.

Back to the officer shortages. Due to short staff, we have had no Church, no education, no drug treatment, etc.!! Prisoners like myself participate in and work hard to complete classes and move on to other goals we have. We earn time off and better ourselves. I know I've personally benefitted and changed!! We just had a PRISONER DIE ON CHRISTMAS EVE!! That prisoner's roommate is in my drug treatment class. We need our drug class open and we need to process all this. Sadly, we can't. When officer levels fell even lower, not only did we not have any important classes but for "safety and security," all prisoners were confined to their rooms. This has been going on since Friday Dec. 31. We have been briefed and warned to expect more of this to continue

New officers are headed to CIW. Correctional Peace Officers CDCR Academy is about to graduate several classes of new Cadets! Jan, Feb and March 2022 we expect to receive 6 new officers each of those months from the academy. A total of 18. This should stop the pressing, overwhelming stress on the institutional level. As much as I hate to deal with rookie officers, I will be glad to see these ones. We need them badly.

To be clear, the prison staff, the ones who do come to work, they hate dealing with the strain caused by the shortages. It causes each of them to work harder and they feel the tension and stress in their own way. Many of them are good people. This affects all of us because it is the holidays and we are all human. I just pray and I ask you to pray for CIW!! This is the worst it has been through my prison 17 year time! We need it!


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