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Articles by Brian Osgood

Weeks Without a Shower: Neglect Defines COVID-19 Containment in California Jails

Incarcerated people have been denied basic services in the name of fighting the virus, exacting a heavy psychological toll.

by Brian Osgood, The Intercept

Michael Pitre spent Christmas Eve in a frigid cell in the Sacramento County Main Jail. Wrapped in a blanket that hadn’t been replaced in weeks, he thought back to previous holidays that he had spent with his two daughters. But now, with his unitunder strict lockdown due to an outbreak of COVID-19, all Pitre could do was lie on his bed and cry. To make matters worse, he said, he had not been allowed to shower since he was booked into the facility on December 2.

In total, Pitre said he went six weeks without a shower, nearly the same amount of time he went without speaking to his daughters over the phone. After spending two weeks in near-total isolation in an intake cell, where he was allowed out only for occasional calls with his attorney, Pitre was moved to a two-person cell. His cellmate had also been denied access to a shower, and the two men splashed water onto their bodies from the sink in a humiliating daily ritual that did little to alleviate the ...