I am a prisoner at Perryville. Arizona Department of Corrections is infamous for its nonexistent mental health care. The women live in a dark place, isolated and alone, which is only exacerbated by Covid restrictions.

Recently, I was transferred to the Lumley unit, which is guaranteed to make a sane person go nuts. The Deputy Warden of this unit believes in punitive justice, not restorative justice. As soon as he was installed, he demanded all his women be escorted everywhere they needed to go.

Imagine being through with your medical appointment in 20 minutes, or shopping that takes 5 minutes, and waiting in triple-digit heat 2 HOURS for an ‘escort’ home. Crippling short-staffing makes this draconian rule difficult for inmates and guards alike. It takes away what little sense of autonomy a person has.

We are not allowed to mingle or visit with anyone but the people on our own yard. What if your BF is on ‘D’ yard, and you’re on ‘A’ yard? You are S.O.L. Even if that’s the one person that can talk you off the ledge, you won’t ever see them. So you turn to the DOC ‘mental health professional’. And after pouring your heart out, they pat you on the head and hand you a coloring book. Wouldn’t your dark place get darker?

So for sanity, I watch CNN. These are congenial, intelligent, people you’ve gotten to know during your long confinement. They seem like real friends. At least they talk to you. They seem caring. You know when they’ll laugh or cry at a story. You’ve seen pictures of their kids. And they are always THERE when you need them…..at the press of a button. A real psychologist would have a diagnosis for the poor sap that feels that way. But for the inmate on Lumley, they’ll never see a real psychologist. This is their dark reality.