Letter From Jamaa James Johnson (3/23/14)

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March 23, 2014


I just realized that I hadn’t completed the major objective in the letter I wrote you the other day. I wish I had a complete journal of the water situation but I will just give you a round about compilation of the events.

January 9th 2014 – We (C-4) pod consisting of around 30 inmates were locked down already that day (“lock down” meaning, locked in a cell, most with a cell mate). We were locked down around 1:30 pm for a violation that one inmate had violated. Around 4 o’clock that afternoon while already locked down we were informed that there had been a chemical leak and we were no longer allowed to drink water, take a shower or flush the toilets, our water in the cells were turned off without any indication before or forewarning. 

At around 5 pm we were served dinner and given 1 small water. The bottle being the size of one of those kids juice barrels. Soon after complaints were being made left and right that evening. By 7 o clock people were complaining of sickness due to the smell from the unflushed toilets. The guards informed us that none of us were coming off of lockdown and deal with it. I remember the stifling smell of wine for the remainder of the evening was so strong that me and my cell mate…had to go to medical for being sick over the strong odor of ammonia. Once we were taken to medical, there was a massive line of inmates from all over the jail who were already there for the same reason. It was insane because they were sick and not locked down of confine to the cells. We (C-4), never got any fresh air at all. I would a say a 7 ft by 12 ft 2 man cell! While at the medical unit the nurses were honestly doing the best they could in the situation but could only offer Pepto Bismol and IB Profin, to everyone. The nurses were really stressed, they were screamed at a lot and very fatigued. I remember feeling sorry for them because this situation from the very beginning needed to have some type of protocol and structure for emergency water or any disaster situation. But it was obvious administration had no such thing. After receiving my prescription for Pepto and IB Profin, I was sent back to my cell me and my cell mate. The correctional officer told us if we weren’t really sick he was writing us charges for obstructing. I was furious at this. I said my piece and locked back down. Around 11 PM that night we were given a few minutes to flush our toilets. By this time hours of urine had sat in each stuffy cell with no ventilation. We flushed and the water was turned back off. We received 1 more of the possibly 8 oz. barrels of water for the night and that was it.

January 10th – We woke up to the announcement that our unit C-4 would be locked down for at least another 24 hours with no water, no flushing toilets no showers. We received 1, 8 oz. water for breakfast. I remember feeling like a dog kept in a cage, and left. No one cleaning out the urine in the cage just leaving it. Guys were very frustrated, some were sicker than others. It was humid in the cell. As the day went on they gave us lunch with a 8 oz barrel of water and a time to flush the toilet, than around 5:30 pm dinner with 1 8 oz barrel of water. It was very inhumane we felt to be locked down in a cell during this whole situation. Still there was absolutely no structure. The correctional officer didn’t really know what to do. Some treated us with respect, others took it as a joke on us. That night around 11pm we were given 2 8 oz bottles of water. The ones that were smart used 1 bottle to brush teeth, dab the clean water on a wash cloth to wipe our faces conservatively and the other bottle to drink. Dehydration was setting in we were literally getting 24 oz of water spread throughout a 24 hour span. Also earlier in that day we knew the situation had become bad. I’m a federal inmate, the government came in and took almost all of the federal inmates to other facilities that had water. Me and 1 other guy were left for some reason. I can’t understand who picked who and who didn’t. But I was left out. To deal with it. The cells begun to smell and draw filter flies due to body odor, and our toilet flushes randomly throughout the day. We all tried to sleep that night in humid filth.

January 11th we woke up to possibly 2 – 8 oz bottles still locked in the same cell for breakfast. By that time we were smashing filter flies left and right. A little later they decided to move us to a empty pod down the hall. We were finally let out of our cells into a day room area with a TV. The flies were terrible there it was disgusting. And it stunk terribly. We were just happy that 48 hours of being locked down in a dog kennel with little water was over with. I’m not the type to complain but at that point I felt like I was a POW in the middle east. That evening we received a 8 oz bottle water during dinner and 2 8 oz waters that night then we locked down for the night. I believe sometime that day SCRJ “attempt” of administration realized that it wouldn’t hurt to leave the toilets on we could flush as we pleased.

January 12th went about the same as the 11th we were now free to leave our cells during the day time. The water regiment was the same. 2 eight oz bottles in the morning, 2 eight ounce bottles at night, 1 8 oz bottle at lunch. Guys were really dehydrated a lot of headaches and weak people around. My head hurt like a hangover for days.

January 13th – the regiment still the same nothing different that day pure dehydration by this time. Only after lock down that night around 11pm I must say was one of the most degrading things ever. The administration decided to use the same water that was banned boil it and pour it in 1 gallon jugs. (We were told it was the same water and not to drink it). Me and my cell mate were given 1 jug a piece and told to clean ourselves with it. We were locked back in our cell where I stripped down and stood over the toilet pouring the jug over my head and washing down. Water all over the floor. This was embarrassing for me and my cell mate. While the guards told us to hurry up. Naked grown men pouring boiled chemical water on myself. By that time nobody cared we were just happy to have any type of bath it had been 5 days. We received our “dirty water jug baths in a cell” maybe every 2 to 3 days.

Well, there is more to write. A few days later we began drinking the odd tasting water and told it was fine to drink possibly 8-10 days after the initial Jan. 9 we all knew something wasn’t right we were drinking the water by the 18th of January, the kitchen cooking with it. Funny it’s March and restaurants still are using bottled water. People become sick and had rashes.
Nobody cared in here.

Jamaa James Johnson