GREENSVILLE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia prison’s lockdown over drugs and contraband is renewing worries about unsafe living and working conditions.
Greensville Correctional Center officials announced the prison will be locked down until late November “to ensure operational safety and security.” This announcement follows a series of inmate deaths and a significant drug bust.
On Monday, Oct. 30, an inmate was found unresponsive in his cell and later pronounced dead. 8News previously reported that this marked the second inmate death in three days and sixth within the last three months.
On Thursday, Nov. 2, during searches associated with the lockdown, staff found an inmate in possession of suspected drugs and contraband, including 8 to 10 grams of fentanyl, 1.5 ounces of methamphetamine, 100 to 150 suboxone strips, 15 grams of THC oil in a waxy form, 2 doses of LSD and tobacco.
The lockdown limits inmate movement, so security staff can search for drugs and contraband more freely. Visits to inmates by their families and others, including virtual visits, have been canceled during the lockdown. Phone calls are canceled as well, but prisoners can send and receive mail.
However, the lockdown is worrying loved ones of prisoners, who say it could endanger their mental health during an already challenging time. Jeannine, whose ex-husband is incarcerated at the prison, said she hasn’t heard from him in two weeks.
“Some of these men and women are sitting in these prisons right now. They’re committing suicide because they have no contact with their family or someone that they can talk to that they trust,” she said.
The lockdown is taking place amid complaints from prison staff and family members of inmates, who have been highly critical about the conditions of the prison.
Staff told 8News that the prison is severely short-handed. Loved ones, like Jeannine, said the prison denies inmates’ basic needs like clean laundry.
“I have never seen such as this place. This place is trash,” she said.
Greensville Correctional Center’s lockdown is expected to be lifted by Monday, Nov. 20, barring any unforeseen circumstances, prison officials said.