Ohio inmate films inside prison after outbreak: ‘Leaving us here to die’

Prisoner shows video of his cellmate pitifully wheezing and coughing a few feet away from him; pleads for someone to help

The Federal Correctional Institution Elkton theGrio.com
The Federal Correctional Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio. Federal Bureau of Prisons

A federal prisoner in Eastern Ohio secretly recorded a video that shows sick inmates in close proximity to each other inside a prison where COVID-19 has claimed the lives of three inmates, has 37 hospitalized and 71 in isolation.

READ MORE: Coronavirus hits U.S. prisons, putting imprisoned populations at risk

“They literally leaving us in here to die,” the unidentified inmate, who wore a mask, said in the lengthy video shot inside the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton. The video, which had almost 700,000 views on Wednesday morning, shows inmates in his cell coughing and breathing heavily. The situation is so dire at the prison that on Monday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine approved the Ohio National Guard to bring critical medical assistance.

“You all m———–s can social distance. We can’t social distance,” the inmate said in the video, showing an inmate sleeping in the bunk above his bed and two other inmates lying a few feet away, one of whom was coughing and the other wheezed.

“People shouldn’t have to die like this,” the inmate said, later explaining that he has less than a year of prison left on a drug sentence and had asked to be placed on home confinement, but his request was denied.

The Federal Correctional Institution Elkton theGrio.com

The Federal Correctional Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio.
Federal Bureau of Prisons

Sue Allison, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, told cleveland.com that the bureau is investigating the video.

“We can confirm that after identifying the inmates in the video, none of them were symptomatic of COVID-19,” Allison said via email to the news site.

The federal prison is located about 100 miles from Cleveland. As of Tuesday, 25 Elkton inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson told cleveland.com in a statement. Some of these infected inmates were transferred to nearby hospitals and are being treated.

These numbers contradict what the local Bureau of Prisons reports. According to a tweet submitted by criminal justice reporter, CJ Ciaramello those numbers are not updated. He notes on his account: “Latest COVID-19 numbers out of FCI Elkton federal prison in Ohio, per head of the local BOP union: – 71 inmates in isolation with symptoms – 37 inmates transferred to outside hospital with virus or similar symptoms – 12 of those on ventilators – 3 staff infected”

According to clevescene.com, there were only 17 inmates in isolation and 20 hospitalizations a few days ago.

READ MORE: Black man, denied early release, becomes first federal inmate to die of coronavirus

Gov. DeWine said he is dispatching the guard and also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide 32 medical staff personnel at the prison to help set up testing labs and treat infected prisoners who show mild symptoms. Inmates showing more serious symptoms will be triaged and transferred to local hospitals.

Meanwhile, attorneys in the Cleveland area filed emergency reprieve requests asking the governor to allow thousands of older inmates and those with underlying health problems to be temporarily released from prisons across the state because they are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from it.