Virginia Prisons

Because the risk of a deadly COVID outbreak was especially high in state prisons, and because the disease could easily spread to surrounding communities through staff, inmates and employees were among the first Virginians to get vaccine. However, nearly a third of prisoners and more than 40% of staff have refused it.  That means significant restrictions remain in place, and frustration behind bars is building.

AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, File

It’s been more than a year since Virginia prisons locked down to try and stop the spread of COVID-19. The state has offered vaccine to every inmate, but restrictions are still in place and are unlikely to be lifted any time soon.

Johnay Hardy

Thousands of inmates at state prisons have now been infected with COVID, and 39 have died, but state officials aren’t sure when they might start vaccinations behind bars.

MBandman / Flickr, Creative Commons:

Virginia’s rural communities are struggling with an aging population and stagnant job growth. And there’s another trend behind bars.

Governor Northam has announced plans to free about 2,000 inmates who are scheduled for release from state prisons within the next year.  They must pose no threat to public safety and have good prison records.  About 28,000 more will remain behind bars – even if they’re disabled or have medical conditions putting them at high risk for death if they were to catch COVID-19.  Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit may mean freedom for others.