Monday, April 13, 2020

Open letter to DOC and Legislature

Open letter sent to DOC Secretary Kevin Carr, DAI admin Makda Fessahaye, and 11 elected officials on relevant committees:

We just received the following message from Bill Ledford, who is held at Columbia Correctional Institution. He's a multi-amputee diabetic, living with others with serious medical issues and immune compromises. Nurses working there have admitted to being exposed to covid-19, but are not self-quarantining because the DOC requires them to keep coming to work. Bill's letter is below.

The DOC has reported three staff members with confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Columbia CI. They have only ordered 6 tests of people incarcerated there, two of which were positive, and three are still pending results.
CCI's Warden, Susan Novak has a history of egregious medical neglect, including refusing for months to administer flu vaccines the facility had received.

People held at CCI have reported ambulances arriving and picking people up on March 3, 4, and 28th. We don't know if these ambulances are covid related or not, but many people at CCI and other facilities have symptoms and are not getting tested.

Many are afraid to report symptoms or request testing because they expect to be moved to segregation, losing their property and ability to communicate with the outside world. At Waupun CI, Doctor Jefferey Manlove was confirmed with covid on March 18 and dozens of people were sick, but only 3 have been tested. 

In the first days after that exposure, our friend Elijah Prioleau (id 420053) reported witnessing guards pointing tasers at sick people's heads and taking them to disciplinary segregation because they reported symptoms and didn't want to go to quarantine. Elijah has called us with more information repeatedly, and last week staff responded by trying to silence him. They moved him to a cell with someone who has a history of battery so that, if he defends himself against that person, staff can put him in segregation and sever his communication with us.

4/12/2020 5:43:31 AM exposure issues
Yesterday morning at a.m. medication pass the nurse is wearing a surgical mask (her name is Jean), which she never has done before. When I ask her why she says because she had been exposed to someone who had tested positive to COVID-19. When asked her - somewhat stunned - why she was here and not self quarantining she quickly responds, "Well, I don't have any symptoms" and then hurries off! And I'm left thinking, just because you don't currently have symptoms doesn't mean you aren't contagious. And the CDC and President's Task Force every day are on TV stating if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive you should self-isolate/quarantine. And here she is passing out medication on the one unit and one wing that has the most at risk and vulnerable prisoners in the whole DOC!!!!

To exacerbate the matter, later that day (4-10-20) I was called to get my lower legs wrapped in 4-layer bandaging. And the same nurse, Jean, this time without even a mask, is the one assigned to the bandaging! Really?!

It doesn't end there. Just earlier this evening (4-11-20) Sgt. Cascaddan comes onto the wing. She has a mask on as well when she never has before. She, too, admits that she had been exposed to someone who had COVID-19. When I asked her why the hell she wasn't self a quarantining, she replied that she couldn't, that the DOC had ordered that they come into work unless they were showing symptoms! The implication being that if they didn't come into work that they would be fired or disciplined. Again, is contrary to the instructions/directives of federal and state authorities and the CDC.

BEN, you should really contact that lawyer friend and see if he can help us and stop the DOC from doing this, putting us at severe risk. This is not going to be good for us! You might want to get a hold of  [media] also. This is just moronic and irresponsible on the part of the DOC and CCI.

Thanks! You all be well and stay safe as possible!

Bill Ledford

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