Dublin Federal Prison Camp

Friday Jan 14, Day 2

The only thing to know about Fridays is that it’s fish day.  It’s not overly appetizing. But I discovered the generosity of women in prison. I brought cash with me to put on my books, but because I arrived on a Thursday, I missed Commissary until next Wednesday. 

The women here in Dublin Federal Prison Camp have welcoming newcomers down to a science.  Extras from others leaving or just simply sharing were provided – shampoo/conditioner, soap, a cup (no cups are ever provided with meals), gray shirts to wear after uniform hours (6am-2pm), etc.. There’s no risk of “owing” any favors because the donations are mostly anonymous and some handled by the head orderly.  I had extra sleep shirts, a robe that actually fit right away. 

Saturday Jan 15, Day 3 at Dublin Federal Prison Camp

It’s a 3 day weekend (MLK on Monday) so I’ve been warned that food service will suffer.  That was no lie. Stale bread, old peanut butter, and bologna are the main features.  Weekends are relaxed dress but I only have a t-shirt so far.  Once I can get commissary I’ll be able to wear sweats and tennis shoes.  This is a big thing to look forward to in here. 

Sunday Jan 16 Day 4

Today I was introduced to our “out” privileges.  We can go out to the front track – no fences, no razor wire.  We can only go out and come back on the hour, but it’s our responsibility to keep track of meal times and be ready for counts (10am, 4pm, 9pm on weekends). I took a book out with me since the boots are hard to walk in for any length of time.  Just being in the fresh air was soothing to my soul. 

Monday Jan 17 Day 5

It’s a holiday so dress is still relaxed but meals are bran flakes with powdered milk, bologna sandwich for lunch, and bologna sandwich for dinner.  I decided the apples would do for me.  Having little to no appetite the first several days of prison in a blessing. 

Tuesday Jan 18 Day 6

I was finally given the phone & computer access codes needed to communicate with my outside world. I tried not to cry talking to Dad for the first time in nearly a week and letting him know I was safe.  I will sleep better tonight just knowing all is well at home and my girls Charlie & Penelope have settled themselves into a routine at Dad’s house.  I’m thankful they’re used to him and that he lives close enough for them to also visit my house and their yard.  

Wednesday Jan 19 Day 7 (1st day of Quarantine Lock Down)

On my 7th day, the entire Camp went into lock down.  Ironically I spent 5 hours in A&O this morning and asked the head of medical services about the protocols in place to keep inmates safe.  With every single one of us taking a COVID test and operating under strict mask and cleaning requirements, our greatest risk is from the outside.  Many prison personnel don’t correctly wear masks, some not at all.  Testing is not routine before they enter the facility and no temperature taking ever. 


So now after doing absolutely everything suggested to protect myself that last 2 years, I’m at the greatest risk in a controlled environment.  Six out of 10 women tested within the small population of the Camp were positive.  Four of those are showing symptoms and quite sick.  So now we’re all locked in our cells except for 20 minutes each day.  Ten minutes in the morning to shower (cold showers) and 10 minutes for phones/computers for at least the next 14 days. 

I’m stressed and scared.  I know how horrible pneumonia feels and after watching Mom struggle to breathe for nearly 2 years before dying in front of me, the dangers are pretty terrifying.  On top of that I haven’t been given my anxiety meds nor any requested allergy meds/Tylenol.  I started feeling not so great, and definitely running a fever.  None of that helps the anxiety.  Serving my time should not mean risking my life.

Thursday Jan 20 Day 8

My cell is tucked in the upstairs corner so the most I can see out the tiny door window is the railing.  I had requested both a watch and alarm clock from commissary but didn’t receive either one.  My cellmate is content with sleeping all day and all night, so she rarely cares what time of the day it is.  She just depends on others to make sure she’s awake for Count times.  I have no way of knowing what time it is other than the announcements for Count at 4pm and 9pm.  As a result we missed our shower time from 6-6:10am today.  I’ve been awake for hours but without knowing the time and risking getting screamed at by the Quarantine Guard (who really really likes to scream) if I stick my head outside the door.  I’m worried I’ll miss our scheduled phone/computer time as well (12-12:10pm).  I let one of the orderlies (who have so far been allowed out to do the fetching/carrying/cleaning) know but we’ve not seen any actual prison personnel yet.  Hopefully I can try for a watch or clock next Commissary but at this point we don’t know when that will resume.  Our food is getting delivered to our cells by the orderlies.  My unit has no hot drinking water (the other unit does), so it was somewhat amusing that our breakfast packs included instant coffee.  

My throat is sore. I’m congested, sneezing, and feeling feverish.  With the constant draft from the sliver of outside window and the vent blowing cold air, the chills are non-stop.  I feel pretty wretched and everything hurts. Commissary also didn’t pull my order for Tylenol.  I’ve asked one of the orderlies for the Sick Call form but they are reluctant to give me one.  It’s now presumed I’m positive for Covid but they don’t want to confirm it because it would restart the Quarantine clock.  Plus Medical is only testing people who are un-vaccinated. 

They are struggling with feeding us. Meals are hours later than normal – lunch and dinner arrived completely frozen (bread/bologna/mustard/processed cheese). 

Friday Jan 21 Day 9

Our 14 day Quarantine Lock Down restarted today.  Three new positive cases. I still have not been tested but my fever remains high and the congestion has moved into my chest.  The coughing hurts. 

The showers are cold to slightly lukewarm while our cell tap water is warm. No hot water for coffee or tea.  It would be nice if we could at least do our cup of noodle soups since today we received 3 meals of frozen bread, frozen sliced cheese, and frozen bologna (we’re guessing, it was hard to determine what it actually was).  

Being in a cell for 23 hours 40 minutes each day with somebody who sleeps for 20 of them is rough.  Today I added a pretty fierce headache to the coughing.  

2:45pm They just did announced an extra count.  Then they followed that with a Census Count (showing ID to check against their list).  In the meantime we’ve had no meals since 7am.  They seem to be scrambling for a plan. 

The Unit Guard announced our 14 days were starting over again today because 6 more people tested positive.  He sounded as if he was blaming he inmate population for the spread.  We all wear our masks all day everyday, while many of the officers wear them pulled down to their chins or not at all.  

My cell is COLD and I’m freezing.  I’m wearing all the layers of clothing I have available.  Still no Medical check-in. 

Saturday Jan 22 Day 10

Almost no voice today.  Freezing again all night and woke with a horribly sore throat.  The cold shower didn’t do much to help.  The food situation has seen little improvement.  Cold cereal for breakfast, cold tatertots and a hard boiled egg for lunch, and dinner was a sack with really old peanut butter and a stale hot dog bun and an expired milk pouch.  

Thankfully they finally allowed us some hot drinking water in our unit.  I was able to make cup of noodle soup and hot tea.  I was also able to call Dad during our phone time but the computers weren’t working.  I’ve told the orderlies I’d really like to see Medical since I’m feeling even worse.

Sunday Jan 23 Day 11

Plenty of time to read while locked down but not a lot of variety in material.  I can choose from religious fiction, mystery, romance, or the bible.  And a small shelf of offerings in Spanish. 

The highlight of my day at Dublin Federal Prison Camp is helping my cellmate with her GED science workbook.  Her reading and comprehension level is fairly low – at least in English.  She says she reads much easier in Spanish (born in Puerto Rico).  

Refused another bologna sack dinner.  No point in taking it just to throw it away again.

My breathing is feeling wheezy and the cough feels even deeper.

Monday Jan 24 Day 12

It was so freezing last night and this morning.  I’m wearing several layers of clothes, using both thin blankets and my extra sheet.  I woke up even more congested, sore throat, and persistent cough.  Several times while laying down I felt panicked when I couldn’t take a full breath.  Sitting upright on my bunk seems to help as well as raising my arms straight up.  When Medical (Mr. Parks) came by our cell door today I told him my symptoms and that I had not received any OTC fever reducers or decongestants from Commissary.  He said to just try again when Commissary reopens after lock down.

I miss my girls so much but I feel ok knowing they’re with my Dad.  They have the other two dogs to play with and he takes all four to my house quite a bit to run and play.  The other day they trapped a racoon under the shed.  It took some effort for Dad to get them loaded back in the truck.  Charlie had nearly crawled completely under the shed – I didn’t tell Dad that she fits under all of the sheds/outbuildings and I’ve had to get her out again. 

We can’t receive photos except directly from a service so I’m going to see if Dad can pull some from my phone to send prints from Amazon Photo.  Also maybe some puzzle books or something because this lockdown is seriously tedious. 

I’m ok with reading and writing, but my cellmate who sleeps 20-22 hours a day has apparently run out of her meds.  It’s made her manic.  She paces, fidgets, and mumbles.  She spent 45 minutes scrubbing one pair of underwear.  Then she took out the last couple of cans from her case of soda and spent 40 minutes tearing the cardboard into little tiny pieces.  She doesn’t read much and can’t focus enough to work on her GED workbook.  

Surprise! Bologna sandwich for lunch and dinner. 

Tuesday Jan 25 Day 13

Another slightly warm shower.  No hot drinking water.  Breakfast in a bag:  hotdog bun, bologna, fake cheese, an orange, and powdered milk.  We don’t even have cold tap water to make the milk.  And if you didn’t have a cup (gifted to you or ordered from Commissary), there would be no way to mix it at all.  I ate the orange.

It looks nice outside.  Hard to believe how much I crave just a single breath of fresh air.  It would be nice if we could get just 10 minute shifts in the courtyard, but no. 

Dad took Charlie to her annual vet appointment and now I’m worried about her knee.  The vet isn’t sure if she’s strained it or torn it, but to watch how she walks on it.  I won’t know more until I can get his email.  I know he sent it but I don’t have anything since the 22nd.  I’ve heard they continue to have computer updating issues.  That’s when we’re even able to log into the computers. 

Today is Day 13.  As slowly as time passes during the day, the days themselves pile up quickly. 

It’s 8am at Dublin Federal Prison Camp and my cellmate is still asleep.  She objects to the light being on, but she’s already missed our shower time, laundry being collected, “breakfast” being delivered, and pill line.  It’s lonely here at times!

I’m hoping for a hot lunch.  

They just tested more women and several were positive for Covid, including Sandra who I’ve spent the most time with before lockdown.  It’s a certainy that my fever, congestion, cough, breathing issues, and chills are all Covid related. 

It’s evident this lockdown will continue. 

Wednesday Jan 26 Day 14

I received a letter from Dad late last night (delivered after 9pm Count).  Short letter but he’d printed three pictures of my girls.  We only get photocopies of letters but the pictures turned out well enough.  I’m so glad Charlie & Penelope have each other.  Penelope definitely needs Charlie, and as independent as she can be, Charlie still likes to snuggle and use Pen as a pillow.  

It’s still freezing in here.  Layering as much as possible helps. Constantly coughing makes my throat and head hurt.  We were allowed a short list of Commissary items to choose from (hygiene, medicine, and stamps) with a $25 spending limit.  I again ordered allergy relief, tylenol, and medicated chest rub.  I only received laundry soap.  

I told Medical when they briefly came by, but was once again denied anything to treat my cough or fever and told to just try to order from Commissary again.  They also refused to test me for Covid.

More updates coming soon from Dublin Federal Prison Camp. Thank you for your interest in my journey.

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Brenda Campbell