American Academy of Dermatology

It’s been a rough summer for residents of the state’s 18 prisons that lack air conditioning.  Inmates say temperatures inside often exceed 100 degrees, and last week those housed at the Buckingham Correctional Center had a new complaint.

Nicole Danso

People locked up in at least 17 prisons around the country are in the midst of a three-week strike – organizing sit-ins, refusing to work or eat.  Virginia says no prisoners hereare taking part, but Buckingham prison is on lockdown, and one inmate at Red Onion is in solitary confinement after trying to organize a prison reform movement from the inside. 

Lisa Laboni / The Marshall Project

Virginia has about thirty thousand people in its prisons, and for each one it spends $2.10 a day on food.  Now, one inmate is suing, alleging the daily diet puts him at high risk for obesity, cancer and many chronic conditions.


There are now more than 30,000 people in Virginia prisons, costing taxpayers more than a billion dollars a year.  A growing number are senior citizens with average healthcare costs of $68,000 a year.  The parole board could release many of them, but it’s been freeing less than five percent per year.

Dave Nakayama / Creative Commons

In 1995, Virginia abolished parole -- a change that led to crowding of state prisons and longer stays behind bars.  Now, small cracks have developed in the legal wall that keeps about 30,000 people locked up.  Sandy Hausman reports on changes that could free some inmates.