Former Inmate Speaks Out About Abuse at Women's Prison

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December 9, 2013

Donna Kidd spent nearly a decade incarcerated at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Fluvanna County on fraud and larceny charges. The 44-year-old began her sentence with a Hepatitis C diagnosis, but says her health deteriorated quickly inside the prison. Kidd now suffers from Cirrhosis of the liver and her organs are shutting down. Doctors at the University of Virginia Medical Center have told her she only has weeks to live, and her family blames the poor health care at the prison.

"They are int there paying for their mistakes, but they shouldn't have to pay with their life," said Barbara Kingery, Kidd's older sister. "If she had gotten the proper treatment, she wouldn't be where she is now."

In early December, Kidd was approved for medical clemency and released early to spend her last days with her family, but Kidd says she still worries about inmates still suffering behind bars.

"There are people dying," Kidd said. "They need help."

Prison officials and the medical staff at FCCW are facing a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center on behalf of five inmates last summer, claiming cruel and unusual punishment. Allegations against the prison include the medical staff giving inmates the wrong treatments, or no treatment at all for a variety of ailments. Kidd is not part of the lawsuit, but says the suffering caused by inadequate health care is rampant in the prison. She says she was left in isolation for days at time by indifferent guards and medical staff.

"What is with these doctors," said Kingery. "Why don't they want to give them the treatment? Or is it the state because they don't want to pay for it? I don't understand because they are still human beings."

The Virginia Department of Corrections uses a for-profit company called Corizon Correctional Health Care to provide medical services to inmates at FCCW and several other prisons in Virginia. Officials with Corizon and the prison declined CBS19's request for an interview, citing the ongoing litigation.

"It's terrible, they don't know how to take care of women," Kidd said. "There have been so many women who have died there."

Attorneys with the Legal Aid Justice Center are working to turn the lawsuit into a class action lawsuit on behalf of all 1200 women incarcerated at FCCW. The lead attorney handling the case, Brenda Castaneda, said the defendants are not asking for monetary compensation. The lawsuit asks for adequate health care for all inmates. A trial date has been set for September of 2014 in the Western District Court of Virginia.

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