Anthony Accurso’s Thoughts on Life in Lockdown

An article appeared in the Dallas Morning News for July 2, 2020 entitled “Prison Starts Mass Testing.”  It details some of the conditions we’re dealing with here, and talks about the efforts of a local South Dallas woman, whose husband is currently incarcerated here, to get the warden to release inmates to home confinement using the powers granted to the BOP as part of the CARES Act.  So far, I have seen no inmates get approved for home confinement, despite there being plenty of eligible candidates.

I live in a building that is large by the standards of FCI Seagoville.  We have bunk space for 330 men.  There are a lot of guys in wheelchairs, guys with chronic lung conditions (asthma, COPD, etc.), and a host of elderly and diabetic men.  When the institution starting reporting multiple, active cases of COVID-19 amongst the population last Thursday (June 25), we went on lockdown.  Prior to that, inmates from each building were going to work in Food Service, Laundry, and Commissary.  Now, nobody is going out, and everything is being brought to our building.  Health Services is conducting pill line and prescription refills on the front porch of the building.  While the Dallas Morning News article mentions that medical staff is now available 24 hours a day, it is somewhat deceptive.  If, during our twice daily temperature checks, we display a temperature of 99.6 or if we mention other symptoms, we are moved out of the building to isolation.  However, we no longer have a standard sick call where we can get routine health concerns addressed.  We are also down to one laundry day per week from two, and commissary is up in the air.  Considering we’re only getting one serving of vegetables per day now (with our one hot meal), commissary options were helping us stay somewhat healthy.

It is scary when inmates have a fever and get moved to another building.  We don’t know where they are going. They are just given a green duffel bag to pack their property, and are moved out.  One guy had a high temperature this morning (100.6), and other inmates spent three hours saying goodbye to him while he packed his things.  Most of them were wearing masks, but it is a testament to the fragility of our psyches that we are willing to put ourselves at risk to say goodbye to someone.

One man asked me today about helping him put in compassionate release paperwork to the court.  He has diabetes, high blood pressure, and is over age 65.  I asked him why he waited so long, and it was because he didn’t know what to do and another inmate was supposed to be helping him.  The guy helping him got moved out because of the fragility of his own health last week.  He also told me that his judge is Henry “Hang ‘Em High” McBride.  Not only will this warden not let people go, but our other recourse involves judges who don’t understand that at-risk people are dying.

By: Anthony Accurso

About Brandon Sample

Brandon Sample is an attorney, author, and criminal justice reform activist. Brandon’s law practice is focused on federal criminal defense, federal appeals, federal post-conviction relief, federal civil rights litigation, federal administrative law, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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