“It has to come out”: detainees and family members complain about the conditions of detention at Elkton prison

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ELKTON, Ohio (WKBN) – An inmate at the Elkton Federal Correctional Institute in Columbiana County has died from COVID-19, the prison confirmed on Friday. There are fears that the virus may spread among inmates at the facility, located just outside Lisbon.

“We are all equal and God has no favorites,” said Noelle Beltran, who worries about her cousin who is being held. “We all deserve some level of care no matter where we are, and I don’t think Elkton is ready to provide the care these sick people need. “

Another inmate died of shortness of breath, but the results of his coronavirus test have not yet returned.

At least two other Elkton detainees tested positive for the virus.

“It has to come out because unless we highlight it, it will be a dark place and many, many people will die if they have not already done so,” said Beltran.

Beltran lives in Texas but his cousin, Benny, sends him an email every day. He has already served nearly ten years and is expected to be released in five months.

Benny said his inmates are not protected from the spread of the virus.

“My biggest concern is that he would die before we have a chance to receive him at home,” said Beltran.

Elkton inmate Travis Barrett sent us a letter. He is serving a sentence of just over eight years on a conviction for child pornography.

READ: Travis Barrett’s letter to us, written March 30, 2020

He gave us a similar account of the conditions, saying that the inmates slept too close to each other and that the staff members wore neither masks nor gloves.

Jessica Studey’s eldest son Joseph has been in Elkton for almost a year. She said she was terrified of what was going on, just like him.

“I cannot imagine the psychological torture he undergoes through this,” she said. “He says he obviously saw a man go white and fall to the ground. “

Congressman Bill Johnson said he was aware of the current situation in Elkton. He said his priority right now is to understand the interaction between county and health officials and the federal prison system. That way they can go ahead with a plan.

“It’s a concern,” said Johnson. “It is a serious concern. He is taken seriously and I ask questions to find out what this plan is. “

As this is a federal prison, the detainees cannot simply be released.

“We have to bring medical help. How do we do that? Is there an auxiliary medical facility on site? Are we increasing hospitals? Are we expanding hospitals in the region to manage the number of cases? How do we do that? “

But until this plan is in place, family members will continue to worry.

“A person in need is a person in need, regardless of what they have done,” said Beltran.

“He is not here for a death sentence and being locked up with a deadly virus is just not fair,” said Studey.

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