prison

Jake Harper | Side Effects

The Indiana Department of Correction will conduct a "comprehensive review" of the Indiana Women’s Prison, according to an email sent to staff on Friday. 

The department will examine the facility’s “operations, programs, treatment services, maintenance and situational readiness.” The email says the decision to conduct the review follows complaints about the prison over the past couple of years. 

Justin Hicks / IPBS

The Miami Correctional Facility is getting more dangerous.

After several weeks over the summer without a reported case, new coronavirus infections are turning up at the Indiana Women’s Prison, and some employees want more testing to protect those inside. 

Jake Harper | Side Effects

The Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis is on lockdown after women incarcerated there tested positive for COVID-19, according to emails sent to prison staff. 

“FACILITY ON LOCKDOWN” read one email sent Tuesday afternoon; another said positive cases have been identified in three units of the facility.

Jake Harper | Side Effects

Update 10/02/2020: On Thursday, Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Rob Carter announced a pay increase for agency staff. Correctional officers will receive $19 per hour, with an increase to $20 within a year. The previous starting pay rate was $16 per hour. 

The announcement said other agency staff would receive raises, as well. 

“I’m writing to thank all of you for your service during this unprecedented time,” said Carter in an email to staff. “I am proud of each and every one of you.” 

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Amanda Kohlhepp had plans for a career in corrections. She worked a few years as an officer at the men’s prison in Plainfield, Indiana, before she made sergeant in 2018, and hoped to keep moving up. She wanted to write policies — sensible ones that made life easier for staff and for people who are incarcerated. 

Justin Hicks/IPBS

It had been a while since Stacey heard from her son, who’s incarcerated at Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill, Indiana. They had an argument a few months ago, but she kept track of him through relatives who communicated with him more regularly, and even saved his voicemails so she could play them back whenever she missed him. 

Then on Wednesday, Stacey’s son sent her a message: “I have covid love u.” 

Ruth L. Poor

Gov. Eric Holcomb often brags about the Indiana Women’s Prison. Last year, Holcomb showed the prison off to Ivanka Trump. He’s mentioned the prison in his state of the state address and posted videos to his Facebook page. 

Jake Harper/Side Effects Public Media

Public health experts and advocates have worried about correctional facilities since the beginning of the pandemic. In such close quarters, social distancing is difficult or impossible, and a coronavirus outbreak poses risks to inmates, staff and the surrounding communities. 

Indiana Department of Correction

The Indiana Women’s Prison has taken hard measures to contain the coronavirus. Many inmates in the prison have spent long periods locked in their cells — which have no toilets, running water or air conditioning — with limited opportunities for relief. 

As temperatures rise over the summer months, advocates and those with loved ones inside certain housing units, known as the cottages, worry about the heat and long periods of confinement. They fear it could cause health problems for the inmates, and say that the treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. 

Jake Harper/Side Effects

An Indiana Department of Correction policy may increase the spread of coronavirus in prisons by requiring “high risk” and “medium risk” staffers to report to work, Side Effects has learned. 

Paige Pfleger/Side Effects Public Media

Prison facilities across the U.S. have become hotspots for COVID-19 cases. More than 34,000 people in prisons across the U.S. have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to recent data from the Marshall Project, a nonprofit covering criminal justice. Side Effects reporters Jake Harper (WFYI, Indianapolis) and Paige Pfleger (WOSU, Ohio) joined community engagement specialist Brittani Howell to talk about covering prison outbreaks in their states.

Sean Tackett/WFIU/WTIU

Sherrie Sanders says she last spoke with her husband, George, on April 12. It was Easter Sunday. 

“He told me he was very sick. He had a fever of 102,” she says. “He knew he had [COVID-19], but they weren’t checking him. That’s the last I heard from him.“

COVID-19 spreads most easily when people are in close proximity. But for more than 26,000 inmates housed in Indiana's prisons, close proximity to other people is a part of life. State officials say they're working to prevent the virus from spreading in prisons, but those inside say it isn’t happening. 

Justin Hicks, Indiana Public Broadcasting

This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. on April 30, 2020 to include new information on Edwards' release date.

On the day Scottie Edwards died, he nearly fell over on the way to the bathroom. A pair of fellow inmates at the Westville Correctional Facility propped him up and got him to sit down on a toilet. 

“He had been sick for about a week and a half,” says one inmate named Josh in a recorded call. He asked to be identified by his first name, because he fears retaliation from prison staff. 

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Prisoners can be heard coughing on calls coming out of Marion Correctional Institution, a minimum- and medium-security facility an hour north of Columbus, Ohio.

And mass testing recently revealed more than 80% of prisoners has contracted COVID-19, making Marion the nation's largest known COVID-19 hotspot.

Justin Hicks

During Monday’s coronavirus news conference, Gov. Eric Holcomb was optimistic about the situation statewide. He emphasized Indiana’s COVID-19 data. 

“I believe that Indiana is, quite frankly, faring better than some other locales around the world,” he said. “We’ll continue to be very transparent about those numbers.”

WFIU/WTIU

This post was updated at 1:05 pm on 4/13/20 to include new infections reported by the state. 

On Monday, April 6, an inmate at Indiana’s Plainfield Correctional Facility stayed up late. From his bunk, he composed two messages. In the first, he told his son that he loves him, that he’s proud of him. 

In the second message, he told his wife he was scared. “I can tell you right now, with nearly 100% certainty, that I am going to get this virus,” he wrote. The man’s wife says he suffers from lung disease, which could increase the chances of complications from COVID-19. 

WFIU/WTIU

Updated 04/08/2020 at 5:24 pm.

On Wednesday, Indiana's Joint Information Center confirmed to Side Effects that 10 prisoners in state Department of Correction facilities have now tested positive for COVID-19, along with 20 agency employees. 

Christine Herman/Illinois Public Media

Ashoor Rasho has spent more than half of his life alone in a prison cell—22 to 24 hours a day. The cell was so narrow he could reach his arms out and touch both walls at once.

Joseph Shapiro/NPR

The Illinois Department of Corrections continues to flounder in its efforts to care for inmates with mental illness, according to a new report authored by Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist and court-appointed monitor on a 2016 settlement agreement on a class-action lawsuit.

Paige Pfleger/Side Effects Public Media

Alisha Floyd bounces her son Chance on her lap. He giggles and pulls her hair.

“He’s the fattest baby here,” she says, laughing.

In 2005, Francis Brauner was a quarter of the way through a 20-year prison sentence at Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana, when he had an accident.

Brauner was imprisoned for a rape conviction, which he maintains was wrongful and part of a setup by a corrupt judge.

His sentence involved hard labor, and one day he was out in the fields, cutting the grass and he bent over to pick something up from the ground. He felt a sharp pain in his back.

http://www.msh.state.ms.us/

The state of mental health care in Mississippi has been in freefall for years.

As a consequence of the ripple effects of the financial crisis, Mississippi saw its state support for mental health care slashed by $42 million from 2009 to 2011, roughly 15 percent of the Department of Mental Health’s budget.

Prisons And Jails Forcing Inmates To Cover Some Medical Care Costs

Sep 29, 2015
tOrange.us

Correctional facilities are responsible for providing health services to people who are jailed, but that doesn’t mean that prisoners don’t face financial charges for care. In most states they may be on the hook for copayments ranging from a few dollars to as much as $100 for medical care, according to a recent study.

No Escaping Medical Copayments, Even in Prison

Jul 23, 2015
Dr. David Mathis examines the ear of an inmate at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville in 2012. California is one of at least 38 states that authorize the collection of medical fees from inmates.
AP

Even going to prison doesn’t spare patients from having to pay medical copays.

In response to the rapidly rising cost of providing health care, states are increasingly authorizing the collection of fees from prisoners for medical services they receive while in state prisons or local jails. At least 38 states now do it, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and Stateline reporting.