From The Inside Out: Hopes, Fears & COVID-19

Jermane Scott is serving life without parole for the 1996 murder of Bertram Thomas, in Springfield, OH.

He has currently been fighting his wrongful conviction for 23 years. Here he speaks candidly about his past experiences, and the present unfolding crisis of Covid-19.


 

I find myself today with many conflicting thoughts and feelings regarding various topics and life issues .

As a wrongfully convicted prisoner there are so many thoughts going through my mind, and some of them are not the most popular. But they are thoughts that any prisoner fighting for their very life have if they were honest with their feelings.

Currently, the world is dealing with a serious pandemic that has caused a significant loss of life around the world. I have many conflicting thoughts regarding this pandemic as a human being, but as a prisoner; a wrongfully convicted prisoner, there is an element of selfishness in my thought process. I am in one breath feeling extreme compassion for all the family members that have been lost over this pandemic, yet then there is extreme fear running rampant through me with thoughts of dying in prison from this virus due to the extremely poor medical care that is currently available to prisoners across the United States; if not the entire world. My prevalent thought at this very moment is I do not want to die in this prison, or any prison after fighting so hard to capture the attention of the wrongful conviction community.

I have an obligation to society and prisoner’s alike to be informative if I am seeking honest help in this fight for freedom. I have to speak about this journey from my experience with transparency. Granted, some people are not going to agree with my story; that’s okay with me, but this is my therapy, as well as my experience .

Emotionally as well as psychologically, this has been far more challenging than anything I have ever had to endure as a person who has been on this earth 42 years. I have lost my father; both sets of grandparents, my entire family as I have known it. Countless relationships lost because of the roller-coaster ride of emotions that I have encountered due to the fight for my freedom. I have learned so much over the past 2 years as the fight for my freedom has gotten more hopeful than ever before.

download (5)

Mansfield Correctional Institution, where Jermane Scott is currently incarcerated.

I want to praise and give respect to those people/advocates behind the scenes who work diligently toward helping prisoner’s obtain their freedom. I wanted to pay those people respect whilst also speaking about my experience. I have had to learn through trial and error that not everyone is who they claim to be in the wrongful conviction community, and if people who choose to exploit a wrongfully convicted prisoner’s desperation for help–for whatever reason–understood the emotional devastation that causes, would take careful consideration before presenting themselves as something they are not.

I have dealt with this very issue and I will tell whomever reads this that many thoughts have passed through my mind after being deceived by a few individuals that were not who they claimed to be. The main issue it has caused has been trust. Trust with people that I know I should trust, but when I get burned so often it becomes difficult to freely trust anyone due to the experiences that I have encountered.

I have had to deal with bouts of depression dealing with trust issues, and as I mentioned, there are trickle down effects for those people who are choosing to do the right thing, having to comfort someone in my position after learning that someone has falsified who they are.

That’s just one aspect of fighting a wrongful conviction .

The other part is dealing with being around people who openly admit to being guilty of the crimes they were sentenced for. Yet here I am in the same place without having committed the crime for which I have been imprisoned for. I struggle on a daily basis trying to keep myself safe from other prisoners. When it becomes apparent to other prisoners that you are different; act differently with daily living, and thought process’ in this environment, you stand out like an open sore, which makes me you target.

I am on constant alert with very little time to relax except when I lock down in my cell at night. This is my daily existence.

I am going to switch course just a little bit from my wrongful conviction fight to the effect that covid-19/coronavirus is having on other human beings that are overlooked quite a bit. Those human beings are prisoners .

Prisoners and staff members alike are dealing with high levels of anxiety. For prisoners right now this is what we are facing: no in-person visits for the foreseeable future. It is understandable that all visits have been suspended to limit exposure of the virus to prisoners, however, prisoners do not have much to look forward to in here, and having visits with their loved ones is an incentive to stay out of trouble, especially for the younger prisoners.

The main concerns of prisoners are food supply and medical care. The procedure for when a prison goes on lockdown/quarantine is that food is brought in a small brown paper bag which generally contains 4 pieces of bread, 2 small plastic peanut butter packets, 2 small jelly packets (think ‘lunchables’ size) and a small snack bag of chips. We could get that meal for 3 times a day if the prison decides that being on lockdown is necessary for the overall safety of the prisoners and staff members.

If one does not have commissary then that person’s situation could become quite dire from starvation as the food rations are inadequate as it is.

When it comes down to medical care, things are even bleaker.

I have personally been to the medical infirmary twice in the last 60 days just trying to get properly diagnosed for the flu, and guess what? I am still coughing today. I have only had 3 consecutive days where I have not coughed in 60days! I explained this to the nursing staff here and their response was to check my vitals–take temp, listen to my heart and lungs–then give me some Tylenol and cold pills, then kick me out the door.

I can say this for certain: as a prisoner, we are all in fear of our lives because we know lives will be lost due to being misdiagnosed, with a lack of value placed on the lives of prisoners (Human beings). It will come down to money with these prisons. There is a fundamental unspoken understanding that prison administrations have where a prisoner will not be sent to an outside medical source unless it is a situation where they would have to explain why an ambulance wasn’t called, and the prisoner sent to an outside hospital.

Other than that, people are going to die in here.

ManCI Volunteer Banquet.jpg

The Upper Room at Mansfield Correctional Institution.

Staff are just as concerned for their safety and health as the prisoners. Staff have been told that if it becomes necessary some staff members will be asked to work 4-5 consecutive days on 18 hour shifts ,and will be forced to live at the prison for those days.

Staff are going to be on edge because their safety is already questionable due to the unpredictable behavior of prisoners, without having to deal with this current pandemic.

This is a very precarious time for everyone .

I think I speak for most prisoners when I say this: don’t overlook prisons, prisoners or prison staff members, because things could get real bad for all involved .
I ask that after reading this journal entry that everyone takes some time to extend some kindness to the aforementioned people, who are human beings and are dealing with the same fear that everyone else is dealing with.

Take it from me, it gets real lonely in here. I go days sometimes not hearing from the outside world, and that causes emotional trauma also. I know I am just one of many prisoners fighting for their very life, and with Covid-19/coronavirus running rampant throughout the world life suddenly becomes very precious indeed, and the anxiety of not wanting to die in prison reaches great heights.
Fight from home if necessary, but don’t put a halt to the fight for those wrongfully convicted, and convicted alike.

Fight on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s