Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Sunday, April 26, 2020, 8:17 a.m. Tomoka C. I. - Daytona Beach, Florida

Inmates tested positive__94__. Staff tested positive__10__

Life goes on, in prison and out. The TV news has talked about the hundreds of prisoners released from local, state and federal jails and prisons nationwide in response to the virus outbreak. The consensus here is that won't happen in Florida. We're here for the duration. I feel especially connected to those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities where this COVID-19 runs rampant. They are prisoners, too--prisoners of their failing bodies, unable to isolate themselves from this plague which is taking a heavy toll on the sick and elderly, alone, unable to receive visitors. None of us saw this coming. It is a pandemic that affects all of humanity, sounding like the plot of a Stephen King novel.

It's easy to be critical, but I must give the prison officials their due. Pardon the tired cliches, but it's true, they're operating without a playbook or a net. They're doing the best they can under extremely challenging circumstances. At least they're not offering to spray us with Lysol or bleach.

The nurses came through for the morning temperature checks. So far, so good. No one in dorm ''K-2" has shown a high temperature this week. We had one diabetic prisoner who takes insulin, who was moved out, with other high-risk men, to a separate dorm, supposedly, for observation.

They woke us for breakfast at 5:45 a.m. Oatmeal, two boiled eggs, coffee cake, and an apple. Since the widespread complaints about the bag lunches of dry peanut butter, they've greatly improved the food. That is an important control factor--thousands of hungry, angry prisoners is not a scenario anyone wants to deal with. One hot meal a day, with sandwiches the other two meals. Everyone gets an orange, an apple, or a banana. We see those miles-long lines of cars in cities nationwide lining up for food packages to feed their families, and count our blessings.

The authorities authorized two free phone calls per week for each prisoner, to stay in touch with their loved ones, a good thing, but not without its consequences. We have two pay phones for 71 prisoners, most of whom make few if any phone calls each week. The queue has been long.

I was able to talk with my wife, Libby, and my 90-year old mother, Lucille Norman, early today while most other prisoners were sleeping. Libby is fine, though missing our visits, spending her weekends doing yard work and enjoying the songbirds patronizing her bird feeders. She's thrilled that hummingbirds are visiting a new feeder given to her by a coworker.

My mother is fine, so far, sheltering in place in her home in Thonotosassa, seeing only my brother, Dan, who does her grocery shopping, and will pick up KFC to go for Sunday dinner. She's banned the grandchildren from visiting until this is over. Don't kill Grandma!

I get email responses from cousins nationwide, and relay them to my mother. She loves to hear from family, as do I. Most recently I've heard from my Norman/Hatchell cousins Sue, Betty and Jane, in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, and my cousin Linda and Aunt Glenda in Texas. My Aunt Alice, in Tampa, fills me in on the rest of the relatives. Everyone is praying for everyone else. It makes a major difference in my own spirits to have family and friends who care. I look around at depressed men who have no one, and thank God I don't carry their burdens.

10:28 a.m. We watched the CBS Sunday Morning show with Jane Pauley, with features about--what else?--the coronavirus. Julie Andrews and her daughter are publishing a new book. Many prisoners are ''news junkies,'' while others have no interest in anything more serious than Jerry Springer refereeing hair-pullings or Maury Povich announcing, ''You ARE the father!''

The TV room has stayed full to capacity. Last night, it was standing room only for ''The Revenant,'' on the Spanish station. It didn't matter that most had no idea what was being said. Grizzly bears and marauding Indians trump dialogue.

11:25 a.m. It is ''chow'' again--turkey bologna and cheese sandwiches. They are also calling for tablets to be charged, so I must bid adieu.

All the best, to all.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love reading your articles. I also read them to Ryan. Praying for you all. Grandma - Sue