The quarantine was a precautionary measure after his son's cellmate came down with a fever, but Puckett is worried because he hasn't heard from him in more than a week.
Puckett said he keeps in touch with friends still in prison, some of whom have shared a variety of concerns — from losing access to law libraries that are critical to incarcerated people fighting their own court cases, to seeing some guards not wearing masks.
“When you’re incarcerated, you’re basically sitting in a box,” Puckett said. “There’s only so much you can do, so you know, you’re more worried about what’s coming in than what’s going out.”
Incarcerated people are particularly vulnerable during this pandemic, and new safety measures have also limited the support they're able to receive. In the California state prison system, for instance, all visitors, volunteers and rehabilitative program providers have been suspended since mid-March.
As for Puckett, the timing of his release has been bittersweet, but he’s grateful to be able to spend extra time with his sister and daughter at their home in Sacramento.
“I mean, it’s good and it’s bad, so I take it as it is," he said. "But I'd much rather be out here dealing with this situation than dealing with it in there."
Puckett said there are ways to make a positive impact in the lives of incarcerated people despite safety restrictions, such as writing to them or donating to organizations that are continuing to do critical work, like the Innocence Project.
Here is a list of ways you can help incarcerated people during the pandemic:
The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focused on criminal justice, created a survival guide for incarcerated people that gives advice for how they can protect themselves while in jail or prison.
Give Money Directly
Restore Justice, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization for criminal justice reform, organized a Facebook group to help people find incarcerated individuals who need money for commissary items such as food, or hygiene products like soap and toothpaste. You can find identification information for an incarcerated person who needs money and send it directly to that person's account.
Help People Post Bail
Community bail funds allow people to pay their bail and await trial at home, thus reducing jail populations. Here is a national directory of bail funds within the criminal or immigration detention systems.
Donate to Organizations Helping Incarcerated Individuals
Some community organizations are creating funds to provide personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies to incarcerated people in jails and prisons.
Organizations that support incarcerated people continue to do critical work, even though many of their efforts are currently hindered by health and safety precautions. Here are some local organizations that are continuing to provide support and resources:
Send a Message of Encouragement
Since health and safety precautions have limited the visitors who can come into prisons and jails, incarcerated people are now even further isolated from family, friends and volunteers. Puckett and Lori Stone, a spokesperson for the Northern California Innocence Project, said receiving mail can go a long way in helping to lift incarcerated people’s spirits, especially now.