Veterans Incarcerated and in the Justice System Committee Update July/August 2020

Dominick Yezzo, Veterans Incarcerated and in the Justice System Committee Chair

BY DOMINICK YEZZO, CHAIR

It’s not over. There was a lull in the number of infections, but now in several states there is a surge in the number of infected people. What occurs in the country occurs in the prison system as well.

The recent spike in coronavirus infections has prompted the Veterans Incarcerated and in the Justice System Committee to re-state its position regarding safe housing and treatment of veterans. VVA insists that wardens and prison administrators maintain safe space and adequate health and hospital care for its inmates.

We recognize the task is enormous; most facilities are overcrowded and underfunded. In times of national trouble prisons and inmates are never priorities. However, wardens and administrators must advocate for the safety and well-being of veterans incarcerated. They are helpless. They do not control where they live, they do not control who comes in contact with them, who visits, who they live with, what they eat, how they dress, and what safety precaution protocols they can adopt. They are susceptible to infections from correction officers who come from home, from the grocery store, and from the gas station and pizza joint near the facility.

All reports to the committee suggest that inmates are receiving adequate mask, glove, and hand-sanitizing equipment. These precautions are key to health and must continue. As well, all visits and group meetings are canceled, including chapel meetings.

Chapter 1080 in Florida and Chapter 559 in Ohio report that they maintain contact with the Union County Correctional Facility and the Grafton Correctional Facility administrations. Although there is no visiting, the veteran inmates at both facilities know they are thought about daily by their brothers and sisters in VVA.


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