prisons

Early one April morning, inmates at Indiana’s Plainfield Correctional Facility found a fellow inmate unconscious in his bed. 

“He was barely breathing when we first tried to wake him up,” says one of the inmates, who asked to be identified by his middle name, Andrew, because he feared retaliation from prison staff. “For about 20, 25 minutes, the [correctional officers] were trying to wake him up, so finally, they called the medical emergency.” 

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.“

In a corner of Jymie Jimerson's house in the town of Sparta, in southwest Missouri, she has set up a kind of shrine. It has Native American art representing her Cherokee heritage alongside Willie Nelson albums, books and photos in remembrance of her late husband.

There's a copy of Willie's mid-'70s LP Red Headed Stranger. "When Steve was young, he had red hair and a red beard, so he always really identified with Willie's Red Headed Stranger," Jimerson says. "I try to keep it up there as a reminder of better days."

Emily Forman / Side Effects Public Media

Janice McClain climbed aboard the van at a stop in downtown Indianapolis and took a seat among a dozen or so other travelers on a recent September day. They were all women and were all on their way to visit children, spouses and fiancés in prison.


Stat: Mental Illness Among Inmates

Jul 14, 2014
Michael Coghlan/Flickr.com

According to a recent report from the Treatment Advocacy Center, a large percentage of inmates had a mental illness in 2012.