Danville on Lockdown – A Student’s Perspective

By Josh Walbert, EJP Student
September 19, 2013

Editor’s Note: Danville Correctional Center was on lockdown between August 29 and September 15, 2013. During that time all visits and programs were cancelled. I invited EJP students to reflect on the lockdown and Josh Walbert wrote this in response. Mr. Walbert has been an EJP student for 3 years.

In Danville, it is rather rare for us to go on lockdown. Even rarer to go on lockdown for more than a few days. When we do go on lockdown we are confined to our cells 24 hours a day. Our meals are brought to us, we get to shower once every three or four days. We have no idea how long a lockdown is going to last, and that is usually the hardest thing to cope with (unless you’re unfortunate enough to have a cellie you don’t get along with).

But this was a medical lockdown. People were getting sick, the officers were walking around with masks over their faces (most of them), and the medical staff were just as unhelpful as always. When your health care system is so inadeqaute as to be nonexistent, any threat to your health is of great concern. Making it worse was the lack of information about what was causing people to get sick; all we were told was “there’s not much we can do about it. Drink lots of water.” Disconcerting doesn’t begin to describe it. On top of all that, I am missing out on all the EJP activities I’m involved in. EJP has become my life. Every weekday I do something EJP-related, some days two or three things. Resource room (study), Resource Room (work), class, workshops, mindfulness meditation, theater, discussion groups, student advisory committees. Not being about to do any of that is crushing. And the longer the lockdown, the less likely those missed activities will be rescheduled, and the more likely they will just get cancelled. This occupied my thoughts even more than the illness going around, more than anything else.

Other than going to seg, lockdowns are the most stressful thing I’ve experienced in prison.

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