After finally finishing the process of infecting the entire facility with COVID – apparently intentionally, the authorities at the Washington State Department of Corrections have been brainstorming again. This involves a process whereby a group of people completely out of touch with the realities of our lives make critical decisions about how we are to be ‘managed’, (kind of like managing a chronic disease, which is probably not far from how some of them see us).
Since they have managed to infect all of us, we kind of expected our lives might soon be returning to something we might recognize as normal. It appears the whole point of a vaccine is to generate antibodies to protect us from disease. Doesn’t actually contracting the disease accomplish the exact same thing? If not, the strategy of infecting every prisoner at the Washington state reformatory sounds more like a naziesque medical experiment instead of the irresponsible management technique we all had assumed it was.
Yet after we all recovered from the disease, they are paying far more attention to keeping us segregated into smaller groups (they call them ‘cohorts’) than they did when our hope was to avoid contracting COVID. It’s very unclear why this might be happening. a year ago it made sense. Now, not so much.
Back when the virus was relatively new, prisoners turned to the courts pleading for protection. And the court almost intervened. The state Supreme Court was one vote short of ruling in our favor. The DOC nearly lost that one.
When that happened, a group of dishonest politicians and would-be politicians stood on the capitol steps warning the public that the court had narrowly thwarted a scheme that would have turned Isaac Zamora loose. This was a blatant lie of course. Zamora is serving six life sentences without the possibility of parole for a crime spree that took place in 2008. No release granting authority in the history of the world would have even one member cast a vote to release Zamora and that is IF he could pass a psych evaluation. He can’t.
But the DOC position on the cases seeking court intervention in the COVID crisis was to outline the myriad of policies and protocols they’d devised to keep everyone safe. As many of us suspected at the time, that has proved to be a false narrative. So false, in fact, that a reasonable person might wonder if it was concocted with the specific intent of deceiving the courts.
Viewed through that particular lens, the new procedures might make a little more sense. With a nearly one hundred percent infection rate, perhaps they might be thinking some of the same people they successfully deceived several months ago might at some point demand the DOC to give an accounting of themselves, and more specifically their catastrophic failure to manage the COVID outbreak at all.
If one assumes a reckoning like that to be lurking in their not too distant future, I suppose it makes sense to concoct a bunch more policies for managing COVID. Then all they have to do is pretend as if the disease hasn’t already torn through this prison. And while we’re pretending, why not act as if these new policies are actually protecting prisoners from harm?
It ought to be much easier this time around. After all, we’ve all already had the disease. They have a reasonable expectation they have achieved so-called ‘herd immunity.’ This makes these new policies a near guaranteed success. The antibodies we manufactured when they issued us the disease will undoubtedly protect us from COVID for a while. But they’re likely to credit their new policies, their vigilance, their professionalism.
In the end this is a small detail really. We’ve survived COVID. Most of us have few lingering symptoms. So what difference does it really make? The difference, of course, is accountability.
When a person commits a crime, society is big on accountability. I personally know many people serving sentences multiple decades long that did not actually physically harm anyone during the commission of their crime. Nor did they steal millions of dollars. But there’s a price to pay and they’re paying it.
The same holds true in prison. If one disregards the rules, they’re likely to find themselves in a long-term isolation cell, struggling to retain their sanity. The DOC is big on accountability.
But when someone challenges them in court, they can just make up whatever story they think will work. Typically the court will take their word for nearly anything they say. Then, once the case is dismissed, all is forgotten. Nobody ever comes back later to examine their catastrophic failures, when the story they sold the court didn’t work out the way they swore it would.
I’m sure a likely response might be to just file again. that would bring this whole mess out in the open. Surely that would result in accountability. Logical perhaps, but more naive than anything else.
No, they got away clean. And if at some point someone gives a cursory glance at what they are doing, they’ll have their new policies to fall back on. And if it looks like that won’t fly, they’ll probably call their professional liar friends for round two of the Isaac Zamora fairy tale. No, there will be no accountability on their end.