RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A caravan for prison justice was organized on Saturday afternoon by the Virginia Prison Justice Network to demand Governor Ralph Northam for change in prisoner care during the pandemic.

According to Lynetta Thompson, the co-chair of the organization, the COVID-19 pandemic has left the prison system in crisis — claiming over one third of incarcerated Virginians have contracted coronavirus.

The organization also stated that 51 Virginia prisoners have died since the pandemic began.

Flyers passed out at the caravan event (Photo: Tyler Thrasher)

Thompson said that the inmates still deserve proper care.

“We believe that, moving forward, that the prisoners need to be cared for just as much as anyone else,” Thompson said. “Those are our friends and our families. Those are our parents and our children.”

The caravan drove from Williamsburg Road all the way to the Science Museum, where the Virginia Senate was meeting for its General Assembly session while the Virginia Capitol is blocked off ahead of Inauguration Day.

The organization listed out demands that they are bringing to the attention of Gov. Northam:

  • Outside oversight of the state’s prisons and jails by the Centers for Disease Control or a similar agency
  • Classification of prisoners on the same level as residents of nursing homes for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Rapid expansion of the state’s early-release program to include a much wider pool of eligible prisoners.

The caravan also featured banners on each car that read “Not One More Death.”