Husband concerned for wife's health in Fluvanna prison

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FLUVANNA COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- William Leonard says his wife's health has taken a downward spiral since she's been incarcerated at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and he's worried she's not getting adequate health care.

Two women died at FCCW over the summer, and Leonard says inmates like his wife are living in fear.

His wife, 59-year-old Denita Foreman, is currently serving time for distributing cocaine in Norfolk. Leonard says she went into the women's prison walking and now she is in a wheelchair. He also says his wife needs two knee replacements and an appointment with a neurological doctor.

"My wife's feet are blue and purple," said Leonard. "That's not normal. She needs medical attention and they are putting it on the back burner."

Leonard works in Portsmouth fixing up and painting houses. He says he can barely concentrate on the job because he's constantly thinking about his wife sitting in a prison cell in pain.

"They just need to get on the ball," said Leonard. "Being an outsider, a person is ill and they see it and push it aside. It just seems like nobody wants to take accountability."

He says his repeated calls for help often go unanswered.

"I've been trying to talk to the warden and he ignores my calls," said Leonard. "I've never gotten a response. They just brush it off and say my wife is grown and she can take care of herself, but I'm her husband."

Although Foreman has been behind bars in the correctional center for almost two years now, Leonard says they talk on the phone every single day and she allegedly witnessed the death of Deanna Niece in July.

"I don't want my wife to die because I know what happened to that other lady," said Leonard. "My wife was in the vicinity and saw what was happening. They put her back in the cell and ignored the problem. They may say something different, they're always going to say something different, but that's how it is."

Niece died on July 25 in her prison cell at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. Niece's parents say she died from lack of medical care in the prison.

Both Leonard and Niece's parents claim that the prison does not always give inmates proper medication.

"From February to now, she has not gotten her proper medication or the proper treatment regarding her leg," said Leonard.

"Every time [Deanna] would call, we would ask her how she was doing," said Ed Niece, Deanna's father. "She'd say, 'Well, these people won't bring you your medicine when you're supposed to get it.' My daughter was taking these pills for [multiple sclerosis], and after she passed away, the medical examiner said she had no signs of MS."

The Legal Aid Justice Center has been looking into claims like these for years and won a settlement against the prison in 2014, but the center is pushing back saying the Fluvanna prison has not made enough improvements.

"These women are suffering together," said Angela Ciolfi, with Legal Aid Justice Center. "They are grieving together and they are living in fear together of whether they might be next."

The prison and the Virginia Department of Corrections declined to be interviewed.



 
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