Letters from Fluvanna
July 27, 2020
Over the last three weeks IAHR has received a series of letters from inmates incarcerated at Fluvanna Women's Correctional Center in Virginia. What impresses me most and makes me very angry is just how little respect is given to those incarcerated at this prison. Denying women underwear, proper shoes, and holding onto outgoing mail are ways to humiliate the incarcerated. As a religious person, I bristle when people are gratuitously shown disrespect. It is a violation of one of my core beliefs that everyone should be treated with respect. Here are the messages we received:
On 7-8-20: I was wondering if you were still doing inquiries on prisoners behalf during the pandemic. I have two incredibly pressing issues that are affecting us right now. The first being that we are not being given clothing and needed materials such as bras, panties, shoes, wash cloths, towels, night gowns, etc. It has been over 6 months since we have gotten clothing exchange. My panties and many others are in shreds and my shoes, again like others, have holes in them. We still have to wear shoes to go to rec, medical and anywhere else we are taken. mine have literal cracks in the bottom, causing my feet to get wet if it rains. We have begged and pleaded and filed paperwork, but we are being ignored. Our counselor even tried, to no avail, to get us at least panties.
The other issue is the access to the law library. . . . No one is allowed in to do research (I have documentation to prove this), even the ones that are mandated by law.
On 7-13-20: Update: I was finally able to get shoes, and was given panties that are a size too small because they do not have anything in between a 6 and 11. I was given these by an offended property officer, who was not willing to discuss or even hear that there was a severe problem in our building with other people getting the items that they needed. She was only willing to discuss me, and was very matter of fact that SHE was not out of anything but the state was when I asked if it were true that they had been out of many things since January. She did confirm that the STATE had been out and had been waiting on inventory...since January. I remained polite even though she was clearly upset and took my informal and follow ups personal, even though they were not. Still, many people are not comfortable filing complaints, and are in need. The Unit Manager and the Counselor are aware, but say they have done all they could. Just wanted you updated on what has transpired. Thank you again for all of your help! It is appreciated!
On 7-22-20: . . .The mailroom is holding our mail, and it has taken a ridiculous amount of time to get our mail in. Tonight took the cake. I got my letter from the Governor's office telling me that they received the documentation I sent to them. BUT the letter was dated May 20 and postmarked May 21. Yet the mailroom held it for TWO months and then scribbled on the barcodes on the front and back to prevent me from telling when it came and put their received stamp "Received - inspector #2 July 22 2020". However, they forgot to check the red stamped US postage that has the day it was postmarked printed within it. They did this with my legal CDs and kept them on their desk for weeks telling me that they were not here, until I wrote an informal and a man in the administrative office found them on mailroom staffs desk. . .Thank you so much for all you do and any help you can give with this. We could be missing very important legal and regular correspondence. We need some outside help.
On 7-26-20: . . .And the mailroom here holds both email and regular mail, as you have now seen. My email to you was held for 13 days it seems. It is awful. Any inquiries that you can make will be appreciated.
On the issue of state clothing, after I filed paperwork and complained, they issued just one pair of panties to some of us... but didn't have enough for everyone, even at one pair a piece. We did not receive anything else. I did manage to get shoes earlier in the week in response to an informal, however.
The mailroom also wrote me back saying that they had no control over when my mail was sent, but they got it the 22nd of July. That is an obvious lie as it is post marked May 21st, but they seemed to not see the post mark. The postmark was verified by my unit manager in building 6, Ms. Moses.