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Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women has been on a strict modified lockdown for 71 days. The prison houses over 1,200 women and up until May 28 the only one staff person was confirmed positive. On May 26 the entire staff and offenders were tested for COVID-19 by the National Guard. The results revealed that an additional three staff tested positive, and eight offenders, who were placed in isolation.

As a precaution the entire prison is on a 14-day quarantine lockdown. All offenders have access to phones, showers, microwave and restrooms. There is no access to the dayroom or kiosk to send or receive emails. All offenders are receiving mandatory temperature checks twice a day and we all have been issued medical masks. There is no movement out of our living wing.

I give credit to the administration for taking every necessary precaution to keeping us safe! The previous 71 days have also been a testament to prevention on the part of the administration. There has been limited movement to medical appointments and each housing unit is called out separately. Recreation movement is called out wing by wing for outdoors in 30-minute intervals twice a day. Food is delivered to each housing unit and eaten in each wing (no cramming 300 women in a dining hall to eat). All of this limited movement to prevent the spread.

The workforce has been limited to a small amount all coming from the same building to prevent mingling. Daily temperature checks are mandatory of all workers. For those many workers who can’t get out to work, the Department of Corrections had agreed to pay all of them their default hours so they can still purchase hygiene items.

After seeing the news and reading articles about how bad other prisons have been affected in the U.S. and Virginia, I feel very blessed to be at this prison.

Early on, masks were made by our tailor shop for staff and offenders. Myself and other offenders always educated staff and offenders in our wing on the importance of wearing the mask at all times.In the wing I’m housed in, sanitation is a huge thing for us because we have a lot of vulnerable at-risk offenders. If they get COVID-19 most likely won’t survive. We live by the motto “that we are each other’s keeper.”

Many of us have a great deal of time, but that doesn’t mean we deserve a death sentence.

The majority of us in my wing have already served 20 plus years for a split second decision, and are role model offenders with no infractions. We are deserving of a second chance at freedom when that time comes.

The staff give us respect and compassion because we give them the same. Granted we are all bored and tired of being locked down, but we will choose being safe and alive over reckless and dead any day.

Thank you to the administration for caring enough about our health and safety so that we can live another day waiting for our time to reunite with our loved ones.

Donna Hockman’s submission was dated June 1, 2020.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Donna Hockman

Donna Hockman is a mother of two grown children as well as a grandmother. She is incarcerated in Virginia.