“Hello,” the call began. “This is a prepaid debit call from an inmate at the Virginia Department of Corrections.”
Madison Buchanan, a 19-year-old college student, pressed 0 to accept the call and was connected to Jacob Alan Shouse, Offender Number 1101441.
“I want to thank you so much for helping me out with this,” Buchanan said.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine,” Shouse replied. “I’m all about new friends, new advocates, activists, anything positive.”
Shouse, 37, had his own agenda in speaking to the student journalist. He asked if he could read Buchanan a letter he had recently written.
“Yes, please, absolutely,” she said.
“Living through this coronavirus pandemic inside the prison walls — razor wire plantations — reestablishes helplessness in an exacerbated form,” Shouse read. “One’s life takes an obvious backseat to prison bureaucracy, modern-day slavery. They’re misleading the general public into a false sense of security, that incarcerated loved ones are safe.”