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Don’t Drink the Water at Wasco State Prison


This is a story about a real-life situation here in Wasco State Prison. To be honest with you I didn’t want to share this, but I’ll tell you my side of the story as I seen it! Oh yeah, also living in it! I am in WSP as an inmate without proper drinking water. I’m talking about clean water.

It’s 2:30 p.m., 7/15/10. We have no clean water to drink. I’ve been here since 7/9/10 and today was the first time that someone mentioned that there has been a problem for months with the water here. Today I heard someone on the intercom say, “Do not drink water,” stay away from the water! I’ve been drinking the water for days, now I hear it’s contaminated with “e-coli” among other things.

I ain’t the smartest, but I do know that something’s wrong here; someone here that controls that issue has failed at keeping safe drinking water for us.

We were given the heads-up about not to drink the water at 2:30 p.m. OK, thanks! What do we now drink? The word has been “It’s on its way” for almost six hours: It’s 10 p.m. now. Time to speak out!

10:30 p.m.: Did I mention that I’m in Wasco, California (Bakersfield)? It’s about a sweaty, thirsty, 90 degrees in here. That’s what the thermometer says. It feels like 120 degrees, easy! And has all day here. I feel like I am in the desert—oh yeah, we are in the desert! Shit’s about to go down. Two hundred-plus inmates without water for several hours now—what do you think? We need no better excuse! Did I mention prison inmates?

The words cruel and unusual punishment cross my mind. What do you have when 200-plus inmates have been without showers or drinking water for hours? Oh, I mean angry/thirsty gang members, and a few thirsty drunk drivers as well. (A beer sounds nice.)

Just got word: Fresh water’s here! OK, now, how fresh is it? Oh, it’s been boiled down. Does that kill e-coli, botulism, etc? My bad, I don’t know how to spell the words but I do know what they mean: feces. Human/animal feces, to say it nicely. Right? I now heard it’s been going on for weeks, but now it’s being told. No one said anything as I got here, no mention of it in receiving. No mention of failed tests, five times this month! So why were we given foods and beverages made with this water? The state of California has problems. I now realize why I have cramps and the headaches. It’s the water! For the last seven days! A referral to a lawyer would be nice. These people here act like money’s coming out of their checks for the water!

Somebody please call Arnold! We need “The Germinator”! I hope this is not part of his big budget-saving tactics.

Next day, 7/16/10, 8:30 a.m.: Posted memo states that it’s “e-coliforms.” Shit. Speaks about boiling water, and not to do this and that. We have no source to do any of the procedures to boil/filter, etc.; we’re in jail, duh! There’s one Igloo [cooler] for 200 inmates. Also, here’s a number to get info: 661-758-8400. Oh, water’s gone in minutes, still no solution. They say it’s been contaminated for weeks now—why are we barely being told not to drink it? What about those on lockdown here, with no way to reach for an Igloo? But that’s a different subject.

Years ago I wrote the Santa Barbara News-Press about certain police officers using a bit of force. Could you run this story and if possible set me up with a subscription for The Independent?—John John Ramirez, #T. 92587, Wasco, CA

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