Overcrowded inmates are
in mortal danger from virus
I was glad to see Lida Shepherd’s opinion piece in the Gazette-Mail on Nov. 21 regarding overcrowding in West Virginia jails. It struck home. I know a young man in one of our overcrowded prisons where conditions are ripe for COVID-19 transmission. With people sleeping on the floor of his crowded cell, there is no room for distancing. No one has a mask or hand sanitizer; guards come and go regularly without them. My friend has never been tested for COVID-19, despite showing symptoms.
And my friend is one of the nearly half of the prison population that is pre-trial, which Shepherd references. Not only is he at high mortal risk without a conviction, but he has no way to pass his time. Because he has no sentence, he cannot attend available courses to better himself, access books to read, or even have pen and paper to write a letter. With the surveillance technology available today, this situation could easily be alleviated by placing non-violent offenders in released supervision.
We have to ask if we really believe that people are innocent until proven guilty when they are given a possible death sentence from the beginning. This is a situation that demands attention. This is not justice. It is not even humane.