Joseph Walters, VADOC Human Resources Director 804-887-7982
Steve Herrick, VADOC Director of Health Services 804-887-8118.
VADOC Director Harold Clarke, 804-674-3000
GCC Lead Warden Larry T. Edmonds, 434-602-3403 or 434-535-7000
Greensville Correctional Center (GCC) is one of the largest prisons on the East Coast. Its general population (GP) is separated into three clusters: S1, S2 and S3, with each cluster containing three Housing Units (HU). Each cluster is completely isolated from the other. The Restrictive Housing Unit (i.e. the hole) is located in cluster 4 in HU 10. I am currently housed in cluster S1 in HU 1. The conditions I describe to you herein are based on the conditions experienced in S1 though they generally reflect the general conditions of GCC as a whole.
As a result of outside advocacy, some conditions here at GCC have improved. We are now issued regular-sized bars of soap for handwashing instead of miniature luxury bars we were issued at first and we are now receiving adequate (out-of-cell) in-pod and outside recreation which allows us more time to exercise and greater access to telephones and kiosks in order to stay in connected with our loved ones. However, other issues here at GCC have persisted and have even worsened since the pandemic forced this prison to go into modified lockdown mode in March and after 200+ prisoners and 40+ prison staffers tested positive for COVID-19 in May. [The number of infections has increased since then]. They issues are as follows:
1. THE QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF FOOD PORTIONS HAS GOTTEN WORSE.
We are currently fed meals in our HUs. Our food is served in Styrofoam trays which contains three food slots as opposed to the six food slots on the regular trays. As a result, our food portions have been dramatically reduced to one-half (and in some cases one-third) the portion size we are suppose to receive. Potatoes and other vegetables served on the tray are often raw or rotten and cannot be eaten. Our meals are often cold because they are left to sit in the foodcart for a substantial period of time before they are delivered to our cells. Reduced portions and poor quality food denies us the proper nutrients to sustain healthy bodies and strong immune systems necessary for warding off or mitigating the complications of COVID-19.
2. LACK OF MEDICAL/DENTAL CARE.
Nearly all medical and dental care has been placed on hold since mid-March. We have been advised that if our medical needs are not related to COVID-19, we will not be seen or treated by medical staff. Denial of basic medical and dental care jeopardizes our overall health at a time when good health is essential for mitigating the effects of COVID-19.
3. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY REGARDING WHAT PRISON STAFF WAS EXPOSED TO OR TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19.
Since March, several GCC corrrectional officers, counselors and other prison staff have either been exposed to or infected by COVID-19. For example, the entire commissary staff in S1 cluster [who potentially exposed us prisoners to COVID-19 when handing us our commissary] was recently placed on leave because they tested positive for COVID-19. However, this knowledge as well as knowledge of other infected prison employees has been consistently withheld from the prison population because it is deemed "personal" or "classified" information. The only way we become aware of an exposed or infected prison employee is through the prison grapevine days or weeks AFTER a correctional officer or counselor takes leave from work for quarantine or returns to work from quarantine. The lack of transparency regarding which officers, counselors or other prison employees (who work in close contact with prisoners) who have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 will result and has resulted in the continued spread of the virus among the prison population here at GCC.
4. LACK OF COVID-19 TESTING.
Since the Governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency in mid-March, GCC officials have conducted only one facility-wide "COVID-19 Point Prevalence Testing" of the entire prison population on May 21-22, 2020. Since prison employees can become infected with COVID-19 after leaving work and then unknowingly spread the virus among the prison population when they return work, and because prison employees continue to test positive for COVID-19 like in the case of the commissary staff, facility-wide testing of the entire prison population should be conducted on at least a monthly basis.
5. DELAYS IN INCOMING AND OUTGOING JPAY EMAILS.
Our incoming and outgoing JPay emails to and from our loved ones are delayed for days and weeks, and sometimes for an entire month, since the start of the pandemic. Per VADOC Operating Procedure 803.1, all JPay emails must be processed and handled as if they were regular postal mail. This means that incoming emails should not be withheld for longer than 48 hours and our outgoing emails should not be obstructed or delayed since they cannot/should not be read, screened or inspected absent evidence of criminal activity or an approved Mail Cover from the Warden. During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for incarcerated people to be able to communicate freely with out loved ones. The deliberate and illegal withholding our incoming JPay by GCC mailroom staff and institutional investigators functions to disrupt/obstruct communication
between us and our loved ones as a time when so many people are becoming infected and dying from COVID-19.
We ask that you communicate these concerns to the below prison officials and demand they be remedied. Thanks for your continued support.