Facing Covid-19 in incarceration

Many people on "the outside" are dealing with the unusual restrictions on their time and movements imposed by the spread of the novel coronavirus

While many people on "the outside" are dealing with the unusual restrictions on their time and movements imposed by the spread of the novel coronavirus, those behind bars have long since got used to being locked up and bored. However, the fear that the disease is unleashing on the world can be felt just as much, and even more so by inmates who have no ability to protect themselves by isolation or sanitizing.

As a prisoner, you might be afraid of catching the disease in cramped and crowded living conditions, afraid of not having opportunities or jobs to go back to outside if the economy crashes, afraid for your loved ones' safety and provision, and afraid of death.

This crisis may have affected your visitation rights, an impending prison transfer, your ability to do prison work or how many parcels and letters you receive. It may have meant you are no longer able to have prison chapel services or see a chaplain or counsellor. These fears and pressures may be affecting your mental health.

But just like those on the outside of the prison walls, you have a choice as to how you respond to this pandemic.

You can choose to give into the fear and anxiety and spiral into depression and hopelessness, or you can harden yourself and try to drown your fears in whatever illegal substances you can get your hands on and whatever sexual options are available, or there is a third alternative.

You can choose to come out of this time of crisis a better person. You can use the opportunities around you to do good, to be kind, to learn something and to grow as a human being. This is the harder choice to make but it becomes so much easier if you invite God to help you do it. He is just waiting for you to turn your life over to Him, as the many stories in this paper prove. He can help you more than you can imagine and, despite your circumstances and past failures, He can give you hope and make something beautiful out of your life.

What have you got to lose?

doing good
Doing some good: Prisoners in five prisons in Mexico are making face masks to provide care and support to society in the face of the coronavirus emergency.
A total of about 2,000 face masks are produced daily in the prison sewing workshops. This initiative is part of the program "Hazme Valer: Productos penitenciarios". Photo Jair Cabrera Torres/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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