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When The Pandemic Closed Prisons To Visitors Loved Ones Picked Up Pen And Paper

It's been one year since the pandemic caused most prisons to shut their gates to visitors. During this time, people have not been able to see their incarcerated family and friends. So, some turned to letter writing. People from around California wrote to their loved ones in prisons in Tracy, Soledad, San Luis Obispo and Stockton, and here are excerpts from some of those letters.


Blaine and Cristina Calderon Bowker on their wedding day.
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Blaine and Cristina Calderon Bowker on their wedding day.

This time last year, you were applying to fire camp. And now you have completed the fire camptraining and were sent out for over 80 days straight fighting some of the worst fires California has ever seen. Not once did I hear you complain. The way you tackle life and lead with love andgratitude constantly amazes me. You are my best friend, my soulmate. My life partner, myhusband, my future baby daddy, my everything. The countdown is on baby. After over 14 years behind those concrete walls we are down to 108 days, nine hours, 14 minutes and 23 seconds until we will be in each other's arms again. But who's counting? — Cristina Calderon Bowker in a letter to Blaine Bowker.


My love, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But that mere absenceis what attimes hurts the most. We miss you every single day. I wish things were different. And I look forward to the day and God willingly sooner than later that you get to meet our newborn son. He just turned eight months, and he sleeps with a picture of you in his crib. I am constantly showing him pictures of us. And he gets the biggest smile on his face when he hears your voice on thephone. I feel he remembers your voice from when I was pregnant. And you would constantly betalking to my belly. Our daughter misses you so much as well. And every time someone asksher about you, she breaks down and starts crying. It's heartbreaking. — Neiva Magaña in a letter to Steve Magaña.


Jorge Luis and Michelle Marrero haven't been able to see each other for a year due to the pandemic.
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Jorge Luis and Michelle Marrero haven't been able to see each other for a year due to the pandemic.

My baby. I hope this letter finds you, knowing how much I love and miss you. It is so surreal to think that after nearly 10 years on this journey together, we will finally be able to enjoy our marriage together at home. It breaks my heart to think that you have spent 21 years more than half of your life away from home. As you served your life sentence, finally, light at the end of the tunnel. And it feels so gratifying to see that shining hope of endless possibilities. It has now been almost a year since we last seen each other due to COVID. And unfortunately, it's easy to see how that time apart from the one you love most could break anyone. Thankfully, your love has kept me resilient and focused on our future. I am so proud of the man you have become. Choosing you and your love in the midst of darkness was the best decision I have ever made. — Michelle Marrero in a letter to Jorge Luis Marrero.


You can hear more stories by and about incarcerated people on KALW's podcast Uncuffed.

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