Governor says no executive order as inmate cases climb in Virginia

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Virginia state prisons as 19 inmates and nine Virginia Department Of Corrections workers have now tested positive for the coronavirus.

There are additional cases now at the Virginia Correctional Center for women in Goochland and at Central Virginia Correctional Unit 13 in Chesterfield. The new cases prompted calls for Governor Ralph Northam to take action.

The governor at any time has broad powers to pardon an inmate. There are elderly and seriously ill inmates, some who claim to be wrongfully convicted, others due for release this year and those who committed crimes as a juvenile.

Governor Ralph Northam was asked Monday, if in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, had he assigned additional staff to review pardon requests or would he consider an executive order.

“We have protocol that we work through with parole and my folks are working around the clock,” Northam said. “A number of individuals have been released and we will continue to work around the clock. But we have to follow our protocol and as far as an executive order, I don’t plan on releasing an executive order.”

As for those prisoners who are going to be behind bars for a long time, the State’s Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran says DOC is diligently abiding by CDC guidelines. He says DOC has been taking extraordinary measures to create space and provide isolation areas for individualized care.

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