The Hidden Cost When Covid Hits the Prison System

Former Bad Boy rapper G-Dep, currently incarcerated, maintains that he and his fellow inmates still deserve humanity

Trevell "G Dep" Coleman
LEVEL
Published in
5 min readAug 14, 2020

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Photo: Jason Farrar/EyeEm/Getty Images

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He’s not on the mic much these days. But that doesn’t mean Trevell Coleman — once known as G-Dep, the Bad Boy-signed MC whose song “Special Delivery” electrified 2001 and spawned a hell of a remix — doesn’t have something to say. Nine years into a 15-to-life murder sentence, Coleman shares the fear and concern that Covid-19 has introduced among inmates at New York’s Elmira Correctional Facility. From inside, Coleman reveals how he found out about the virus and what the reaction has been from the inside.

Since the beginning of the year, we’d all been in our day-to-day routine: watching television, going to work, recreation, and then evening programs. The days come in and go out, with little changing on the inside.

But then one day in March, there was a buzz in the facility. We could hear people whispering about some kind of virus circulating in the outside world. At first, there was an air of disregard and skepticism and even outright disbelief. A highly contagious virus spread by droplets in the air and deadlier than the flu? You need to be six feet apart or wear a mask? It’s hitting vulnerable populations in enclosed places like nursing homes — and prisons?

It sounded like a movie. But pretty soon, the dismissal and denial became paranoia and panic.

It was true, and places like nursing homes and prisons were expected to get hit hard.

Not only did we have to worry about our health here on the inside, but we had this stressor created for our people on the outside. Beyond what might happen to us, the whole world was in danger. As the convict population became more in tune with the news broadcasts and reactions from loved ones and family members via phone and email, it was apparent this was not a test.

Those of us who work inside of the prison had our already low wages lessened — or had our jobs cut…

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