Pender Co. inmate on COVID-19 outbreak, violent incident: ‘They just got fed up’

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — An inmate at Pender Correctional Institution is speaking out about frustrations over a coronavirus outbreak at the prison and a skirmish that happened Wednesday night.

Some inmates at a local prison are under quarantine following a violent incident Wednesday night.

The skirmish happened at Pender Correctional Institution in Burgaw around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. 

According to John Bull with the state’s division of prisons, offenders in three housing units set trashcan fires over a five-hour period. Some inmates refused to return to their rooms after the fires were put out.

Prison guards used non-lethal force to keep the situation from escalating.

Marvin Green is an inmate at Pender Correctional. He said it all started, because the inmates are frustrated with how a covid outbreak is being handled. As of Thursday, there are 64 inmates with COVID-19.

“You infecting people that wasn’t infected, because you didn’t take them out of general population,” Green said. “You test them. Nothing wrong with you. You put them back in population, when in fact, they got the coronavirus.”

Green said that inmates are wearing cloth masks, but he thinks they should have N-95 masks. He said their beds are not six feet a part. Green said they have soap to wash their hands, but he said they don’t have anything to dry them off.

Green also said, when they eat meals, the inmates sit two to a table. Green also said, he is concerned about how often the dorms and phones are being cleaned and what they are being cleaned with. Green said he is concerned about how quickly cases are spreading within the prison. He said the skirmish happened Wednesday night in a couple of the dorms who are in quarantine.

“What happened last night was they just got fed up. And guys fear for they life over there, because the staff is not doing anything,” Green said.

According to John Bull with NCDPS, seven of the ringleaders from the situation Wednesday night were placed in medical quarantine. Bull also said around 300 offenders were housed in the three housing units impacted by the trashcan fires.

Bull said the prison is taking precautions in regard to COVID-19. Bull said the Division of Prisons has taken more than four dozen actions to prevent COVID-19 from getting into the prisons, to help prevent it from spreading to other prisons and to confine it within a prison if it does get in. 

Here is an outline of the Division of Prisons medical protocols on COVID-19:

Offenders who test positive are promptly separated from the rest of the offender population and placed in medical isolation to better ensure they didn’t spread the virus. The housing units where the COVID-19 positive offenders were housed are placed under medical quarantine for close observation and twice daily temperature checks. Any offender who subsequently shows symptoms of the virus is moved into medical isolation and tested for COVID-19. Each prison has medical protocols in place in the event an offender needs advanced medical care.

This is important: All housing units at the prisons are cohorted, kept in groups, to prevent the mixing of offenders in one housing unit from those in other housing units. These “cohorted” housing units go to chow together, to recreation time together, to pill call together, etc. This is a precautionary virus-mitigation strategy to better prevent the spread of the virus in a prison.

All of those protocols are in keeping with guidance from the CDC and NCDHHS for virus-mitigation and containment in a congregate care facility, such as nursing homes and prisons.

All staff and offenders each have five to six cloth, three-ply face masks and are required to wear them. The prison has ample cleaning supplies and extensive cleaning regimens in place.

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