F.C.C.W. PRISON LIFE
As an offender advisor for the past 5 years, I am approached daily by offenders seeking guidance and advice on how to receive resolution on various complaints they have with staff and departments. My advice is simple. “Follow your chain of command.” Almost each one of them states, “I already did that and nothing was done.” I have created this section with other offenders in mind so that they can voice concerns and frustrations with the way F.C.C.W. handles and resolves issues pertaining to our daily life.
If you or your loved one is being mistreated in Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women please comment here with copies of letters, general comments or anything that needs to be brought light. No person should have to live under these conditions. Also, email us your original letters if you don’t have access to a scanner and we can post those as well.
(You do not have to register to post your stories)
Click here for insight into daily life, and policy issues for prisoners: Prison Life – The Cure
Please take a minute to read this story by an anonymous inmate regarding hate crimes against her while at Fluvanna: Fluvanna Civil Complaint
The following information can be found at http://www.c-ville.com/abuses_exposed_at_fluvanna_correctional_center/#.Vf8H_99Vikp
Helen Trainor reads about 50 letters a month from women at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. “I actually read personal letters, unlike a lot of people, and take them seriously,” she says. As part of her job as director of the Virginia Institutionalized Persons Project (at the Legal Aid Justice Center), she has to know what goes on in jails across Virginia.
Trainor says that conditions at Fluvanna “began to resemble the conditions at Virginia’s strictest prisons, as opposed to a Class 3 prison that it is.” The letters described discrimination and segregation, which prompted Trainor and other volunteers from Legal Aid to meet with Senator Frank Ruff, Jr. (15th District) in a church basement to discuss what could be done.
Then, on Monday, December 28, the Associated Press reported that Barbara Wheeler, warden at Fluvanna, which is the state’s largest women’s prison, will be replaced by Wendy Hobbs. Larry Traylor, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections confirmed to C-VILLE that Wheeler is retiring, though Wheeler was unavailable for an interview.
Cynthia Neff has also been working with Legal Aid where she has heard the stories first-hand.
“We were hearing from a number of people that they were discriminated against because they looked butch, aggressive-looking women,” she says. In fact, the Associated Press reported in June that gay inmates were segregated, with lesbian inmates with short hair and baggy clothes kept apart in the “butch wing.”
Trainor says that things began to change about a year ago when Michael Frame became the new major, or head of security, at Fluvanna. The previous major was convicted for having sex with female inmates, says Trainor.
Neff says Frame proceeded to “toughen the place up.”
According to Trainor, women were forced to walk in single file to prevent inmates from talking to each other. Touching other inmates was also prohibited.
Trainor, who for matters of privacy can’t identify inmates or quote directly from the letters, has paraphrased their content. In one instance, an inmate questions whether the new no-touching rule is conducive to her rehabilitation. “Where does this rule come from? I tried to find them in the IOP’s (internal operating procedures) but I couldn’t.” In another, a woman writes that a mentally ill inmate was kept in solitary confinement for months. “When it’s time for her to take her shower, she is lead, shackled and naked, down the hall, with a dog leash attached to her shackles, by a male guard.”
The Associated Press, which, according to Neff was tipped by Legal Aid about the allegations, reports that Senator Ruff asked the Department of Corrections also to investigate claims that the prison reduced prisoners’ access to religious services.
Traylor told C-VILLE a review of the facility is “still being finalized.”
“It’s a sad state of affairs that the only way to get things changed in prisons is to get a state senator involved,” says Trainor. Calls to Ruff were not immediately returned.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) (2015)
The prison is in the process of settling a class action lawsuit over health care services for prisoners. The changes are too little too late for one prisoner, who died last month from cancer, but her family said her deposition made all the difference in the legal battle.
In her deposition, Debbie Daley said, “I realize people are in here for something they’ve done but to be back here and not be able to get medical attention, it’s not fair, you know. To sit in pain and suffer 24/7 is not fair, not for nobody.”
Daley, a 49-year-old mother of five, told a federal judge that in November 2014.
The inmate at FCCW was supposed to testify in the class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of the inmates against the prison in Fluvanna County, the Virginia Department of Corrections, and the private contractor hired to provide care.
The lawsuit accused the parties of denying imprisoned women access to adequate health care, citing “cruel and unusual punishment”.
“I know it’s not going to do much for me because I’m not going to be around, but maybe it will help somebody in the future,” Daley told the judge, according to deposition records.
Daley died less than three months later from rectal cancer. However, her words lived on through her compelling deposition and played an influential role in the lawsuit’s outcome.
Scott v. Clarke: Fluvanna Health Services Case
On November 26, 2014, the Legal Aid Justice Center announced that it had reached a settlement in our lawsuit filed on July 24, 2012, on behalf of women incarcerated at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. WileyRein and Washington Lawyers’ Committed are co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The lawsuit asserted that the 1200 women incarcerated at FCCW are being provided constitutionally inadequate medical care, leaving their health and lives at serious risk.