Inmate disputes VADOC’s claims about conditions at Buckingham Correctional

Virginia News

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(WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Corrections said that protocols were put in place during the recent heatwave to ensure the safety of the inmates and staff members at several prisons built without air conditioning. An inmate at Buckingham Correctional Center disputed VADOC’s claims Monday in a letter sent to 8News.

Following the disclosure that 18 state prisons were built without air conditioning systems, VADOC said that additional fans were installed “to keep housing units as comfortable as possible.” VADOC also stated that extra ice and water was made available “to help everyone remain hydrated in the elevated temperatures.”

An inmate at Buckingham Correctional Center, who wished to remain anonymous, shared a letter with 8News through a family member that contradicts the information provided by VADOC.

The inmate wrote that the only offenders with additional fans are the ones that could purchase them and apart from the industrial fans that are mounted on each wall of the housing units, no other fans have been installed.

“They are overpriced and stop working when it gets hot,” the inmate wrote about the fans. “Nothing here at Buckingham allows for offenders to borrow fans through the hot months. Each housing unit has at least two 24″ or 30″ industrial fans mounted to each wall in the housing units.”

Related: ‘Sleeping in puddles of their own sweat’: Loved ones say Va. inmates suffering during heatwave

The inmate told 8News the fans that can be bought are breaking down because they have no way of cleaning them. According to the letter, security screws were installed to ensure that offenders could not disassemble the fans.

“The cooling vents get clogged with dust and the fan can’t breathe,” the inmate wrote. “I was standing in the commissary line yesterday and I heard at least three offenders complaining about how hot it is in their cell because their fan has stopped working.”

In regards to VADOC saying that extra ice and water has been made available during the heatwave, the inmate claims in the letter that water bottles are provided to staff members, not offenders.

“Offenders here at Buckingham are not being provided bottles of water. The staff is provided bottles of water,” the inmate wrote. “Bottled water is sold here at Buckingham in the commissary and we can purchase it when our building is scheduled to visit the commissary.”

While the inmate said that Buckingham has water fountains installed in the day rooms of each housing unit and there is “adequate water to keep us hydrated,” they denied that extra water and ice has been provided.

“I know that on previous occasions security placed a ten-gallon cooler filled with ice and water but our housing unit currently does not have one,” they wrote.

You can read VADOC’s full statement sent to 8News below:

With temperatures reaching triple digits in the Commonwealth this weekend, the Virginia Department of Corrections has protocols in place to protect offenders and staff in facilities not equipped with climate control air conditioning.

Eighteen facilities designed and built without climate control air conditioning are still in use by the VADOC. Within these facilities, staff has installed additional fans to keep housing units as comfortable as possible. In addition, extra ice and water are available to help everyone remain hydrated in the elevated temperatures.

All other VADOC facilities have climate control air conditioning; most were constructed after 1990. Three of the department’s larger facilities built prior to 1990 have been retrofitted with climate control air conditioning.

Thus far, none of the facilities equipped with climate control air conditioning systems have experienced any major disruptions during the extreme heat.”

Virginia Dept. of Corrections

The warden of Buckingham Correctional Center has not yet replied to 8News’ request for comment. 8News is also awaiting a response from VADOC regarding this report.

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.

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