Dear Santa Claus,
As a child I never wrote or asked you for anything, we are in different times now. The real people in charge don’t respond. So I’ve resorted with a plea to a mythological icon.
Could you and your Menehune elves sprinkle some ‘Aloha dust’ on the Dept. of Public Safety as you fly over? The staff have misplaced their hearts and are callous to the incarcerated population in Hawai‘i. This population now lives precariously, day to day, trapped in their cells with a raging lethal virus stalking their halls. With transparency severely lacking we only know of out-breaks of COVID-19 in the private prison in Saguaro, Arizona where 674 have tested positive, one has died, out-breaks in Halawa on O‘ahu with 168 counting staff who have it, 70% of the inmate population in Waiawa are positive. And I’ve heard of an out-break in Hawai‘i Island at a jail. These prisons and jails are described as perfect incubators for COVID-19, not just in Hawai‘i but across the U.S. mainland.
Imagine being locked in a tiny cell from March of this year to present, no visitation from loved ones, only allowed out 15 minutes a day for a quick shower and a phone call to family. Everyone isolated from the outside world and the inside one to. No exercise on the asphalt barbed wire yard, no social interaction with your fellow inmates. Ten months of this with possibly 3 more years to go. And if you get sick there is more isolation in the medical unit. Yes Santa, perpetual punishment boarding on physical and psychological torture, possibly even death.
And a Public Safety Department incomprehensible to the fact that an inmate could be someone’s father, mother, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, niece or nephew. To them they are just an inmate number!
All I’m asking Santa is an infusion of empathy, a smudgon of compassion, an ounce of kindness, a suggestion of humanity from the DPS.
Presently Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants permission to exclude the inmates from the new daily COVID count so their numbers don’t fudge the tiered economic recovery on O‘ahu. You see Santa without political representation this population is the most expendable of our communities. DPS has become the Dept. of Public Hazard.
Those of us with loved ones incarcerated humble ask, in the spirit of Christmas, for your magic touch.
Blu Dux is a resident of Lihu‘e.