Left To Die: Indiana Prison Officials Enable The Spread Of Coronavirus (2020)


On April 30, 2020 at least half of the nearly 300 prisoners in my assigned cellblock (J-housing unit) here at Indiana’s Pendleton Correctional Facility refused to accept meals in protest of our treatment, or lack thereof, related to the Coronvirus pandemic, and it’s spreading within PCF. Our food strike was accompanied by several demands.

First we wanted everyone to receive medical monitoring for Coronvirus symptoms, regular temperature checks in particular. Also that testing be provided throughout the prison.

Second that we receive hot and nutritionally adequate meals. As I pointed out in a previous article, (1) since April 15, 2020 we have been receiving cold sack meals that don’t provide us even basic daily nutrition, whereas health experts recognize the need for heightened nutritional intake to strengthen the immune system as a protection against contracting and spreading Coronavirus.

Third that we be provided regular hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to sanitize our hands and cells.

Instead of responding to our concerns, that same day Pendleton officials put our cellblock on quarantine. Which could only be seen as a punitive measure.



Later that afternoon, the deputy warden D. Reagle made rounds in the cellblock, something that otherwise never happens.

Several prisoners, including me, stopped him to seek resolution of our concerns related to the Coronvirus situation at the prison.

Reagle’s only interest was to try and deflect our concerns, and when I pressed him further he engaged me like a college student trying to win a debating contest.

He admitted to another prisoner, Demetrius “Ra Hodari-El” Burks, that just over 100 prisoners at Pendleton had been tested for the virus and 50 tested positive. A shocking admission that statistically, some one-half of us were infected at the prison. He also admitted to Demetrius that the day before a prisoner from our cellblock had died from the virus.

When Reagle got to my cell, I questioned him concerning, 1. the lack of basically nutritious meals at the very time that we needed added nutrition to strengthen our immune systems; 2. the need to test the entire prisoner body for the virus; and 3. our need of sanitizers for our hands and cells. As said, Reagle’s response was not to offer and reaolutioms, but instead to debate the issues.

First he contended that officials have no duty to provide prisoners adequate nutrition, but instead must provide us only a 2500 calorie-per-day diet. I responded that this was obviously absurd, since if calories alone was all we were entitled to, a lump of animal fat would be all officials would need give us. He actually said it was [!!?], and proceeded to contend that the law supported this. I contested this. He doubled down on his position and maintained we would continue to receive the sack meals, which by now are making people sick, because of the constant daily intake of so much bread, peanut butter and processed meat, with next to no fruits and vegetables.

He dismissed the possibility of widespread testing, stating officials lacked unspecified resources, and that they’d only test prisoners who showed symptoms. I pointed out that many Coronvirus carriers are asymptomatic, so such a policy was irresponsible. He went back to arguing lack of resources and dismissing me with assurances that there would be no widespread testing.

He responded much the same to my questions about providing hand sanitizer. He did say that cell cleaning supplies would be made available, however. As recently reported in the media, Pendleton has undergone an exponential rise in the spread of the virus. While nutritionally our immune systems are being deliberately made as weak and vulnerable as possible; and officials are refusing to map the spread of it.

We need maximum public support, not only for our protection, but also in relation to those who work here and will carry the virus back out with them. And I should inform you that many staff here DO NOT keep masks on nor sanitize their hands.

The most effective and appropriate response is, as comrades and activists across Indiana have been calling for at protest rallies at prisons across the state—“Free ’em all!”


Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!


  1. Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “Failed Response to Coronvirus in Indiana Prisons (Pendleton Correctional Facility),” San Francisco Bay View, https://sfbayview.com/2020/04/failed-response-to-coronavirus-in-indianas-pendleton-correctional-facility/
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