Mourning Our Losses

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These posts are in collaboration with the Mourning Our Losses Project

On this page we feature memorials written or collected by a new partner, the volunteer group Mourning Our Losses. In the words of the group’s coordinators,

Mourning Our Losses is a crowd-sourced memorial to honor the lives of people who died in prisons, jails, and immigration detention facilities in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. We remember the lives of people who died from exposure to abominable public health conditions, as residents and as employees.

Mourning Our Losses seeks to restore dignity to the faces and stories behind the statistics of death and illness from behind bars. We believe that a loss of any human life warrants mourning.

We are united in our effort to honor our fallen brothers and sisters by telling their stories. We offer a platform for grief, healing, community, and reflection for all those touched by this preventable tragedy.

We update this page weekly; the posts can be viewed below. To see MOL’s full archive, please visit their website, and consider donating to their volunteer-powered initiative. To support the initiative, follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Life in Quarantine is proud to partner with Mourning our Losses. As with other initiatives such as Prison during Pandemic, this collaboration restates Life in Quarantine‘s basic commitment to honor the lives of people by focusing on their actual, lived experience of the pandemic.  We hope that you will read the many stories the MOL team has so admirably been collecting; sadly, they are stories of human beings to whom covid-19 was not a bump in the road, but a definite end.  We believe that anyone trying to understand the complexity of our current moment, especially in the United States, will benefit greatly from reading these stories and passing them on to others.

About our partnership, Kirsten Pickering, one of the team members at Mourning Our Losses, writes that

We deeply appreciate Life in Quarantine for amplifying the voices and stories of people living in conditions of mass incarceration during this pandemic. Conditions in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers have always been inhumane and exploitative, and have only worsened during this crisis. People incarcerated today suffer a rate of COVID infection five times higher than the general population, as well as 24 hour lockdowns and the denial of basic human needs, including access to showers, adequate food, and contact with loved ones. Through their focus on Prison during Pandemic, LiQ helps us not to look away.

Below you can find some touching memorials that span the United States. These memorials are a reminder that for some of us, this pandemic was not a hiatus, but a permanent interruption. All love and condolences to the family members and loved ones of the people featured below.

Óscar López Acosta, 42, Morrow County Detention Facility, OH

Óscar López Acosta, un residente de Dayton, Ohio, dejó este mundo el domingo, el 10 de Mayo, 2020. Él tenía 42 años. Sus amigos le recuerdan como una persona amable y apacible, devoto a su familia y su fe cristiana. Óscar está sobrevivido por su esposa Lourdes Mejía Flores, su hijo de 18 años y sus dos hijas de 8 y 2 años.

Óscar nació en San Francisco de La Paz, un pueblo ubicado en un valle de Honduras. Él construyó una vida en los Estados Unidos. Trabajó en trabajos duros en Dayton, trabajaba construcción en el verano y trabajaba en un rancho de pollos en el invierno

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Leonard Carter, 60, Queensboro Correctional Facility, NY

Leonard Carter of Brooklyn, NY passed away of COVID-19 on April 14, 2020. He was only sixty years-old. Leonard is survived by his sister Cynthia Carter-Young and other loving family who mourn the loss of their respected brother, father, uncle, cousin, and friend.

It is particularly tragic that Leonard’s second chance was snatched away so close to his scheduled release date of May 26, 2020. After 24 years of forced separation from Leonard, due to pandemic restrictions most of his family had to miss saying goodbye at his funeral service.

Leonard was denied an earlier release date which might have prevented him from catching Covid-19. As his niece Keisha told the New York Daily News, “it was the wrong call not releasing him. It was just the wrong thing to do. He was going to be released anyway.”

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Derick Coley, 30, Cummins Unit, AR

This memorial was written by MOL team member Beth Muse with information from reporting by John Moritz of Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Max Brantley of Arkansas Times, Ninette Sosa of Fox 24, Anna Stitt and Daniel Breen of UALR Public Radio, and Pine Bluff Commercial. Transcribed by Eliza Kravitz.

Original artwork by MOL team member EJ Joyner.

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Casey McVea, 49, Raymond Laborde Correctional Center, LA​

Being in prison is already hard, but working with those outcast by society, with a pure heart, by seeing their humanity and extending a helping hand is the definition of a true servant of God. I did not personally know Dr. McVea, but as a prisoner I truly appreciate all those in the medical profession who put their life at risk everyday to help those in need. This incredible man worked in the prison as a medical director until his life was over unexpectedly because of the coronavirus. He did not abandon his flock, nor did he cower away in fear.

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Guadalupe Ramos, 56, FMC Fort Worth, TX

Guadalupe Ramos disfrutaba de las barbacoas, pasar el tiempo con su familia y bailar. Su sobrina, Veronica Chavez, dijo que esperaba conocer a sus nietos y ver a sus hijos nuevamente. Ella le dijo a un periodista que cuando Guadalupe firmó su sentencia, “en ninguna parte decía que firmaría una sentencia de muerte.” Pero después de una intensa batalla contra el coronavirus, Guadalupe murió en el Hospital John Peter Smith en Fort Worth, Texas el 10 de mayo de 2020. Tenía solo 56 años.

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Tiffany Mofield, 43, Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, NJ

Tiffany, 43, passed away on April 29 in Edna Mahan Correctional Center for Women, leaving behind her two parents, three children, and four grandchildren. All are devastated. Shatifia describes her mother’s death as “unbearable” and like “a bad dream I can’t wake up from.” She writes, “I wanted you home but not like this… I waited almost 4 years for that woman to get back out here with me[.] I couldn’t wait to wake up to her cooking breakfast.” Shatifia feels “robbed” of the life she should have had: a life with her mom in it.

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James Thomas Hill, 72, ICE Detention: Farmville Detention Center​, VA

James Thomas Hill, 72, was a beloved family man whose presence was sought out by many. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, James worked as a physician in Shreveport, Louisiana. His family knew him as a gentle, loving man. “He used to give great big bear hugs,” said his niece, Jessica Marostega Bob. “You could talk to him about things. He was reassuring, and he would always say, ‘Remember, I love you.’”

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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