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Lockdown in Lockup

In a pandemic, prison is one of the worst places a person could be.

Social distancing is almost impossible. Prisons are often overcrowded – bathrooms and public spaces are shared by hundreds of people. Guards are constantly going in and out.

Robbie Pollock spent 8 years in New York state prisons. Recently, he spoke with his friend Moe Monsuri, who has been incarcerated since 2007. Moe is serving his time at Sing Sing, a maximum security prison in upstate New York, where four people have died of COVID-19. Robbie and Moe talked about what it’s like to experience a pandemic when you’re behind bars.

Robbie Pollack (L) and Moe Monsuri (R) talk about the deadly impact of the coronavirus behind bars. Photos by Aslan Chalom and Lisa Cohen.

Robbie Pollock lives in Queens, NY and manages the Prison Writing Program at PEN America. Moe Monsuri is a musician and writer incarcerated at Sing Sing prison. This story was produced by reporter Daniel A. Gross. You can read more of Daniel’s work at The New Yorker.

The story has support from Humanities New York and National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this production do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. We also have support from Radio Diaries listeners, find our more and donate.

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