When There’s a Pandemic and Your Loved One Is in Prison

Ideas for support and advocacy during the COVID-19 crisis 

By Evelyne Kane and Suzy Subways

It’s challenging enough for loved ones of people in prison: paying for expensive phone calls, trying to advocate for your loved one’s health, keeping your head up through it all. And now we have to deal with this new virus. Here are what we hope will be some helpful ideas and suggestions, which we’ve gathered from people in prison, their loved ones on the outside, and other activists:

Coronavirus Info to Share with Your Loved One in Prison:

COVID-19 is the name for the new disease spread by the coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), COVID-19 is very easy to spread from person to person, and transmission can happen in a number of ways, including:

  • From close contact with another person who has the virus (being within 6 feet of them)
  • Through contaminated surfaces or objects (the virus can live on many surfaces for hours or even days)
  • Through contaminated particles in the air (for instance, when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes)

Continue reading “When There’s a Pandemic and Your Loved One Is in Prison”

Healthy Eating: Non-Diet Hacks and Tips

By Leo Cardez

From PHN Issue 41, Winter 2020

At Prison Health News, we try to avoid talking about diets, in part to be accepting of all body types, and also because changing eating patterns is more healthy than dieting. I’m going to focus on healthy eating tips you can use in almost any prison. Some might work for you, and others might work for other readers, so don’t feel like you need to try them all.

  1. Water is your friend. Drink a cup of water before you walk to chow, another during your meal, and another after. Doing this can fill you up, help with digestion, and help clean your teeth.
  2. Slow down. Eat mindfully. Focus and enjoy the meal. Chew your food at least five times before swallowing. Try eating vegetables and protein first off your tray.
  3. It may help to keep a food journal and write down everything you eat, as long as this doesn’t increase your stress. The idea is that being more aware of everything you’re eating will help you get more control over what you are eating.
  4. Here’s another tip that may work well for some of us but not for others: Create a daily meal and snack schedule to plan what you will eat. Stick to it.
  5. Find a healthy eating buddy to hold each other accountable and for support and encouragement.
  6. Try to eat the opposite of traditional meal portions throughout the day. Have a large breakfast, reasonable lunch, and smaller dinner.
  7. Prepare your cell-made snacks and meals in advance. For example, if you plan to have a snack or meal later that day, set them aside in the morning.
  8. Some people find it helpful to eat all their meals in an 8-to-10-hour window, not eating the other 14 to 16 hours each day. This is often referred to as intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting, or limiting your eating to certain windows, draws on 20 years of medical research and literature, encompassing a large number of studies, and has been proven to be safe, effective, and highly beneficial. It’s been associated with longer life span, weight loss, maintaining a healthy weight, and may help prevent cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
  9. Create small daily goals, and start the day with personal affirmations. For example, “Today, just today, I won’t eat any bread or processed sugar.” Review this every morning and mix it up.
Continue reading “Healthy Eating: Non-Diet Hacks and Tips”

The Impact of Stress on the Body

By Lucy Gleysteen and Seth Lamming

From PHN Issue 39, Winter/Spring 2019

Everyone experiences stress. Sometimes stress can act to help push us through difficult situations. Not all stress is bad but when stress spirals out of control, it puts the body more at risk for developing serious illness. Stress is not something that is “just in your head,” because it can impact your body, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Being able to recognize stress is one step in reducing its impact. This article will explain the impact of stress, and things you can do to reduce your stress levels. Continue reading “The Impact of Stress on the Body”

Taking Care of Yourself When You Have Hepatitis C

by Karon Hicks and Seth Lamming

From PHN Issue 39, Winter/Spring 2019

Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver that is caused by a virus spread through blood. It is most commonly transmitted through shared needles or other equipment during injection drug use. You can also get hep C by being tattooed or pierced in prison or using other people’s personal care items like razors that may have infected blood on them. The risk for hep C transmission through sexual contact is low, but the risk increases if you have HIV, multiple partners, or a sexually transmitted illness. In general, anyone who has ever injected drugs, had a blood transfusion before 1992, or was born between 1945 and 1965 should request testing for hepatitis C. Continue reading “Taking Care of Yourself When You Have Hepatitis C”

Growing Through Depression: A Toolbox for Mental Wellness

By Faith, Latyra, Kima, Rusty, and Stephanie; Women in Re-Entry at the People’s Paper Co-op Arts & Advocacy Fellowship

From PHN Issue 39, Winter/Spring 2019

The following is our truth. Our voice. It’s written by powerful women, all formerly incarcerated. We want you to remember your worth, to know that we hear you, that you’re thought of, and that we’re sending our love!

WE KNOW THE PROBLEM:

I know what it’s like to be depressed and behind bars. Waking up, day after day, living in a box… not knowing when you’re going home… Locked down. Feeling like a number, not a person. I’d sit and wait. Continue reading “Growing Through Depression: A Toolbox for Mental Wellness”

Get the Facts on Genital Herpes

By Lucy Gleysteen

From PHN Issue 38, Fall 2018

Overview

Genital herpes is a common virus that impacts 50 million people in the United States (one in every six people). Herpes is a lifelong infection characterized by painful or itchy sores and blisters around the mouth and/or genitals. Herpes is caused by two types of viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Many people do not have any symptoms of herpes but can still carry HSV-1 or HSV-2. This article will focus on genital herpes. Continue reading “Get the Facts on Genital Herpes”

Quick Tips for Common Ailments

By Timothy Hinkhouse

From PHN Issue 38, Fall 2018

Migraines:

Don’t you just hate it when your day hits a brick wall because you feel a blinding migraine coming on? Some people, it practically debilitates them and leaves them curled up in the fetal position in a dark room on their bed with a cool wet cloth on their forehead while wishing for any immediate relief. Continue reading “Quick Tips for Common Ailments”

The Real Deal on HIV Transmission

By Elisabeth Long

From PHN Issue 38, Fall 2018

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is not spread easily. There are a lot of myths about how people get HIV—from mosquito bites to sharing utensils to toilet seats to coughing and sneezing. None of these are true. The reality is that HIV is only transmitted when a body fluid that carries a high concentration of HIV gets into the bloodstream. Mainly, HIV transmission occurs through unprotected sex and sharing drug use equipment. Fortunately, the risk of HIV transmission can be reduced in
a number of ways. Continue reading “The Real Deal on HIV Transmission”

How to Quit Smoking and How to Not Start Again

By Arielle Horowitz

From PHN Issue 38, Fall 2018

Most smokers know that smoking is bad for their health, but they also know that quitting smoking is not easy. According to the American Lung Association, quitting smoking can be easier if you know your reasons for quitting, talk to a doctor, understand what to expect, and get help. Federal prisons and almost half of state prison systems prohibit smoking cigarettes indoors and outdoors, but more than half of states still allow smoking in prison yards. For those who quit smoking while in prison and are soon to be released, it is important to think about how to not start smoking again outside prison. Continue reading “How to Quit Smoking and How to Not Start Again”

Hepatitis A and B

By Arielle Horowitz

From PHN Issue 37, Summer 2018

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a virus that can make it harder for your liver to work. You can get hepatitis A from food or water contaminated with fecal matter (poop), being near someone who has hepatitis A, or having sex with someone who has hepatitis A. It is not spread by sneezing or coughing. Washing your hands often, especially after using the toilet, may help you avoid getting hepatitis A. You can also prevent it by getting a hepatitis A vaccination. It is important to speak to your doctor to be sure that you are properly vaccinated, as everyone’s vaccination needs and effectiveness can be different. Continue reading “Hepatitis A and B”