Sister concerned for brother in Valdosta State Prison amid COVID-19 pandemic

Sister concerned for brother in Valdosta State Prison amid COVID-19 pandemic

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - COVID-19 concerns continue to be a problem inside Georgia prisons.

A concerned family member of an inmate at Valdosta State Prison said she feels the Department of Corrections is not doing anything to protect those incarcerated.

WALB spoke to a sister of an inmate here at Valdosta State Prison and she is very concerned for her brother’s safety. She said she keeps up with the COVID-19 data from the Department of Corrections and says the number just don’t seem to add up.

Her brother tells her there an no precautions inside.

“I think that there are like 50 staff members that have tested positive, 16 recovered and only one inmate that has tested positive. And I just feel like that is impossible for 50 staff members to have it and only one inmate contracting the virus. So either they are not reporting it or they are not testing them. I have inside information that basically they are not being tested and people that have been tested positive for it are still in the general population,” said Lacole.

Lacole wanted to use her middle name and keep her identity hidden in fear of retaliation for her brother. He has been in prison since 2017 and is set to be released in about three years.

In the meantime, she worries for his safety and health on the inside.

“The inmates are going to get it, there’s no way they can go out and get it because they in prison. Someone has to bring it in to them,” said Lacole.

Her brother told her some staff members do wear masks but not all of them.

The inmates are not allowed to wear any type of face covering.

Lacole also told WALB her brother says if an inmate feels sick, they are taken to medical but get normal treatment as if they were sick and not with COVID-19.

They are then sent back with the general population.

Lacole told WALB her brother tries to clean with the limited supplies he can have.

She said there isn’t much for sanitation. Hand sanitizer isn’t allowed because it contains alcohol and inmates can use for other purposes.

“That’s my biggest thing because it’s only getting worse. I don’t see it’s getting better. I feel like at least if you’re not going to do what you’re supposed to, at least report it correctly. You see how fast it spreads in the normal world so I’m sure it’s spreading fast in the prison and you’re not reporting it. Like if my brother has it, I want to know,” said Lacole.

Lacole just wants her brother to be safe so he can come home soon.

WALB reached out to the Georgia Department of Corrections with these concerns and asked for information on their efforts to keep inmates safe inside and Covid-19 under control. We have not heard back.

The Department of Corrections updated its website Tuesday afternoon and it now shows five inmates testing positive and three recovered.

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