The Marshall Project

The coronavirus pandemic has shone new light on social problems in this country – income inequality, racism, homelessness and poor access to medical care.  It’s also underscored problems with Virginia’s criminal justice system.

Askari Danso

Public health experts say prisons are especially vulnerable during an epidemic with inmates living in close quarters – many of them elderly or suffering chronic diseases.  

Here in Virginia,  the Department of Corrections has stopped visitation because of COVID-19.  But  prisoners and advocates are still worried.

Dave Nakayama / Creative Commons

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have proposed to increase the amount of time inmates can earn for good behavior. 

Thursday night a group of citizens sweated their way through a House subcommittee meeting to speak in favor of the legislation.

The American Civil Libties Union of Virginia has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections over solitary confinement at maximum security prisons. 

The group says isolation lasting weeks, months or years can trigger mental illness or make symptoms worse.

Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety is suspending a controversial prison policy before it takes effect.  Officials had planned to ban women visiting prisons from using tampons, because they claimed those sanitary products could be used to smuggle-in contraband.