Formal grievance: COVID -19 by Daniel J. Peterka


April 06, 2020 Rep. Dianne Hart 3911 North Tampa Street Tampa, FL 33603 Dear Rep. Hart: I am an FDOC prisoner housed at Union CI. It is common knowledge that physical contact can transmit cold, flu, MRSA, and other harmful germs and viruses from an infected person to a non-infected person. Despite this knowledge, Union CI staff routinely touch multiple prisoners, conduct multiple cell searches, et cetera, without changing gloves. Such behavior is recklessly indifferent to the welfare of prisoners, especially in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic. Accordingly, I submitted an administrative request form on March 09, 2020, requesting that, absent an emergency, Union CI staff be required to put on clean gloves before every physical contact with a prisoner, cell search, et cetera. On March 24, 2020, after more than two weeks had passed without a response to my request (according to FDOC rules a response was supposed to have been provided within 10 days), I resubmitted my request in the form of an informal grievance. Although that grievance was "approved" on March 27, 2020, it did not result in any actual changes in procedure, so I will resubmit my request as a formal grievance today.

It is my understanding and belief (based on conversations with staff) that Union CI's administration will not implement the requested changes in procedure unless directed to do so by either the Secretary of the FDOC or the court system. I will continue to press this issue administratively, but given the serious risk to prisoner health anything you can do to help resolve it favorably would be appreciated. Despite the (very real) risk of retaliation please feel free to use my name and refer to my administrative request and grievances (copies of which are enclosed) if making inquiries. Please also feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. Sincerely, s/Daniel J. Peterka Daniel Jon Peterka #119773 -- P Dorm Union Correctional Institution PO Box 1000 Raiford, FL 32083-1000 _______________ INFORMAL GRIEVANCE: (Institutional Log #: 213-2003-0306) Union CI, Assistant Warden--- 03-24-2020 Response: All staff have been instructed to use precautions during physical contact to the best of their ability. s/Ryn Mae (sp?) 03/27/20 (Response rec'd 04-01-2020) _______________ ADMINISTRATIVE REQUEST: Union CI, Security--- 03-09-2020 Re: Physical contact between staff and prisoners Because of the real and obvious danger of transmitting cold, flu, MRSA, and other germs and viruses when staff touch multiple prisoners without changing gloves, I request that, absent an emergency, staff change gloves between every physical contact with a prisoner, cell search, et cetera. Thank you. s/Daniel J. Peterka 119773 Response: None given, not answered. ​ ____________________ GLOVE APPEAL Secretary, FDOC--- It is common knowledge that physical contact can transmit cold, flu, MRSA, and other harmful germs and viruses from an infected person to a non-infected person. Despite this knowledge, Union CI staff routinely touch multiple prisoners, conduct multiple cell searches, et cetera, without changing gloves. Such behavior is recklessly indifferent to the welfare of prisoners, especially in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, I submitted informal and formal grievances (log #s 213-2003-0306 and 2004-213-026, respectively) requesting that, absent an emergency, Union CI staff be required to put on clean gloves before every physical contact with a prisoner, cell search, et cetera. (Copies attached) Neither grievance resulted in the requested changes in procedure, with the formal being denied on April 14, 2020, meaning this appeal is timely. This appeal should be granted for at least three reasons: First, it appears that the requested changes in procedure were denied, at least in part, because "there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Union CI." (Response to formal grievance, par 3) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, COVID-19 can be spread by people displaying no symptoms. In light of the CDC's information Union CI's refusal to implement the requested changes is misinformed and putting prisoners at substantial risk of serious illness or death. Second, virtually all hands-on physical contact with prisoners occurs during so-called "custodial escorts." Unless staff are assisting sick or injured prisoners to the clinic or taking an unruly prisoner to disciplinary confinement, however, such contact is uncalled-for, and as such poses a needless risk of transmitting harmful germs and viruses from contaminated gloves to a non-infected prisoner. If clean gloves cannot be put on, then, staff can---and should---be required to avoid hands-on physical contact with prisoners except in an emergency. Finally, it is difficult to imagine a need to search a cell so urgent that there simply isn't time to put on clean gloves. Because of the real and obvious risk of transmitting harmful germs and viruses from contaminated gloves to a non-infected prisoner's pillow, clothing, et cetera, during a cell search, then, staff can---and should---be required to put on clean gloves before every cell search except in an emergency. Accordingly, I appeal the denial of my grievances and for the reasons given request that, absent an emergency, Union CI staff be required to put on clean gloves before every physical contact with a prisoner, cell search, et cetera. Moreover, these smart and sensible changes in procedure should remain even after the threat of COVID-19 subsides. Thank you. April 21, 2020 s/Daniel J. Peterka 119773

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