COVID-19 in Prison

I think this is literally the scariest thing Sean and I have ever faced together. Especially with articles like this: 

Two Prison Employees Test Positive for COVID-19 CDCR says

CNN: New Corona Virus Cases in Jails Heightens Concerns About an Unprepared System

ABC News: Fearing Outbreaks and Riots, Nation’s Prison and Jail Wardens Scramble to Respond to Corona Virus Threat

New York Times: An Epicenter of the Pandemic Will Be Jails and Prisons if Inaction Continues

Marshall Project: Families of the Incarcerated Fear the Worst as Coronavirus Spreads

The Marshall Project: Photos Show Some Prison Beds are only 3 Feet Apart

I think every one of us with loved ones in custody are in a state of real alarm and concern for the health and safety of our loved ones who have absolutely no control over their own environent and surroundings. While CDCR states that they are doing everything they can to take precautions, it is hard to believe when they have proven they do not have anyone’s best interest in mind but their own. The conditions in California’s overcrowded unsanitary prisons is a recipe for disaster.

Sean says he is doing his best to stay away from others, wash his hands diligently, wear a cloth over his face when he is outside his cell, and to keep his surroundings sanitized. He says the prison yard he is on has modified it’s program to reduce outside exposure and limit the number of inmates in any area at a given time.

Between every dayroom session the porters are cleaning and sanitizing everything and they’ve established a quarantine location for guys who show symptoms. They have reduced the amount of people going out to dayroom and yard to a quarter of the usual amount to promote social distancing. It’s terrible because as the MAC Chairman everyone is running to me with every kind of question imaginable wanting me to fix it, but of course I can’t. It’s hard because I don’t know when I will get to see my wife again. I have no idea what tomorrow is going to bring because everything is changing day by day hour by hour. It’s been incredibly hard to even get phone calls to call my wife. I feel defeated to be stuck in here with no end in sight. We are already facing such a hard situation from having no ruling on my case for over 3 years but then to have COVID-19 crisis on top of that it’s completely overwhelming. Yesterday at the end of afternoon dayroom I went back to my cell and collapsed on my bunk because I felt exhausted from dealing with everything. I had my package to put away and instead I set it on the ground and laid there for 20 mins… it sucks. Right now I feel safe but I know that at any moment that feeling of safety can disappear because if it gets bad enough the officers could abandon us. I have food set aside just in case they don’t feed us for a few days… and like 4 bags of cough drops.” -Sean 3/29/2020

We are both working diligently night and day to bring Sean home, despite not having a ruling yet from his Evidentiary Hearing in 2017.  Thank you to our friends and supporters, our hearts are with you.

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Our Fight for Justice

Welcome newcomers and welcome back to everyone else. Thank you for the support and love we have received lately, it means everything to us.


Please help us fight for justice by signing our petition, liking our video, sharing and commenting. You can also find us on Facebook. For more information about Sean’s wrongful conviction case click here. For the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals favorable ruling click here. To read Sean’s letters of recommendation click here. Or to read more about our story click here.

This is a crazy stressful time for everyone and that is one reason why we are so desperate to bring Sean home where he belongs and out of prison where he cannot control his environment. Taking a moment of your time to help us share our story will increase pressure on the judge and Governor Newsom to act quickly. We have been waiting over 3 years for a ruling after Sean clearly proved his innocence at his Evidentiary Hearing in 2017. Sean has been wrongfully incarcerated for over half his life…. it’s time for justice!

Photographer: Between The Lines                   March, 2020

*Video Footage provided by Between The Lines*


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My Invictus

Sean wrote this poem for his Inside Out writers class. Invictus means unconquerable and was a poem written by William Ernest Henley in 1875. Sean wrote his own rendition of it. 


My Invictus

In the nightmare that holds me

Enduring with no end

My faith gives me strength

An unconquerable soul


At just 16 my nightmares consumed

In 17 more I have not wavered

Mine innocence will shine through

Despite the toil and toll


Others do not know what is

For they see naught other than surface

The pain and sacrafice brought forth

will find me unyielding

In unjust blindness that consumes all

my rightful liberty has been denied

In am more than circumstance unbending

I will prevail

Written by Sean O’Brien for Inside Out Writers Group

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Family Visit 18: love and fear

Feb 26-28 2020

I got out of Family Visit and started my drive home at about 10 am and made it home by 3:30 pm. This photo is from the rest stop along the way, the trees are blooming. Looks like spring time. 

One last parting kiss before I walk out the gate. The guards swing it shut with a clang and lock it. He is on the inside and I am on the outside. I whisper “I love you”. As I am walking away, I glance back. He is signing ‘I Love You’ and I can see it in his eyes. Pain. I am pushing the heavy utility cart across the bumpy gravel, trying not to smash into the stumbling toddler in front of my cart. He is helping his grandma push their cart, but he can barely walk. The guards walk with us, I look back again and he is signing to me, I taught him. More tears well up in my eyes. I don’t want to go. I need more time with him. I don’t want to have to leave him there. It’s the worst feeling imaginable.

.    .     .    .

Now I’m writing weeks later and CDCR has shut down all visits across California, including Family Visits.  There have been no confirmed cases at my husband’s facility.  This COVID-19 situation has affected everyone. Its absolutely frightening how in an instant they can take away the one thing we are both living for. There has been so much negativity, hate, anger, fighting, and insults hurled around online lately. People are divided instead of standing united.  Its heartbreaking that during this time some people choose to be unkind and mask their fear with anger. If you are reading this please remember we are all humans and we all deserve kindness and respect. No one is immune to emotion

I don’t know how long it will be before we get to see each other again, I’ve seen some documents saying Family Visits wont be running until June. It’s crazy to think that is even possible. I can’t think clearly. My mind is going a million places at once. This whole situation is serious and  frightening, but for inmates and people with loved ones who are incarcerated, it’s hell.


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Not my art. Look closely.
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Vern Pierson, the District Attorney of El Dorado county used my case to get elected. Before being elected, he promised my mother he would look into my case and “do something about it”. He never did anything about it. But his empty promise secured the votes. Fast forward to today. My wife sees an article about Vern Pierson having a hand in freeing this man. While we are happy for this Ricky, whom I knew in county jail, what about the promise Pierson made to me? Ricky I remember you and you are the only other person I have met who was also wrongfully convicted. I’m happy for you but please remember the innocent men and women still behind bars.

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3 YEARS ago today was my Evidentiary Hearing in Federal Court in Sacramento. 3 YEARS ago I proved in a court of law that I have actual evidence which makes it impossible for me to have taken part in the crime for which I am convicted. The state does not dispute this evidence. In fact, at this point they have *absolutely nothing* to connect me with the crime. 3 YEARS of waiting. 3 YEARS of my life stolen for nothing. 3 YEARS is a long time to force someone to wait for one simple answer when the facts are right there. They are grasping at straws, hiding from the unavoidable truth. The truth of their wrongdoing. The state of California put an innocent child to die behind bars.




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