RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Senator Joe Morrissey has once again called for the immediate release of non-violent inmates currently incarcerated at Virginia’s regional jails and correctional centers.
Citing the coronavirus-related passing of 33 inmates since April, Morrissey issued a statement Thursday, calling for a “process to be established to expeditiously release inmates.”
According to the statement, in April, Morrissey called for inmates’ release with less than one year to serve on their sentences.
“I have written countless letters to wardens across the state asking for the release of inmates with less than a year to serve on their sentences and I have only received generic responses stating processes are in place for early release,” Morrissey added.
In the statement, Morrissey referred to Askia Asmar, one of 19 COVID-stricken inmates at Deerfield Correctional Center, who died from the disease. The 67-year-old was suffering from a long list of health issues like cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.
He was even placed in a housing unit with COVID-19 positive inmates.
“He would call me every day to keep me informed on how he was doing because that’s the only way I would know if he was still living or when he was dead,” Asmar’s sister Maudie Howell told 8News on Oct 2.
Said Morrissey, “If Askia had been released, he would home right now surrounded by his family and loves ones.”
The statement adds that outbreaks at Virginia Department of Corrections facilities have led to 3,700 inmates contracting the coronavirus. Regional jails are reporting active numbers in the dozens, Morrissey added.
“These inmates are in the Commonwealth’s care and we cannot allow them to die simply because of a slow-moving bureaucratic process,” Morrissey concluded. “VADOC and Sheriff’s across the Commonwealth must act now before more lives are lost.”
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