VA Prison Refuses Public Records Request About Complaints Following Inmate Death

MemoryMan /
MemoryMan /

The Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) is still under the magnifying glass for their treatment of an inmate at the Marion Correctional Treatment Center in southwest VA. Currently, they are refusing public records regarding the treatment of its inmates. These records requests come as a lawsuit against 5 guards over the off-camera death of Charles Givens is currently pending, although the state has yet to file charges.

According to the DOC, they are under no obligation to provide any records. They claim that these dozens of pages of documents pertain to incarcerated people and their imprisonment. An offer to request them with the names of guards and prisoners redacted was also denied. Filed by the Associated Press on behalf of the suit being brought by Givens’ sister Kim Hobbs.

In her suit and as part of the records request, Hobbs claims the two years’ worth of records would show numerous complaints of uncomfortable cold conditions in the prison. With systems either not functioning properly or at all, guards would also often leave the windows open during the colder months. The suit further alleges that the intellectually disabled Givens was severely tortured and beaten while in an off-camera shower facility.

Before his death, Givens was repeatedly taken to the hospital for hypothermia, as alleged in the lawsuit and supported by medical records. In a specific February 2021 incident, Givens reported to the ER with a body core temperature of 98.2 F*- a massive departure from the typical 97.6-99.6 F*. The admissions records, in essence, claimed he had been found like that.

A special grand jury was impaneled back in 2022 and ultimately concluded that the death of Givens was indeed “suspicious,” and they called the conditions unfit. With one inmate testifying that he had seen ice forming in the toilets, their report said, “We find these conditions to be inhumane and deplorable.”

The FBI has been investigating this issue, but they have declined any comment up to this point in the investigation. The DOC has also refused comment, but spokesman Carla Miles claimed that there can be other causes behind hypothermia and attempted to shift blame towards anti-psychotic meds.

Givens had been sentenced to serve time in Marion on two felony charges from his guilty plea in the death of Misty Leann Garrett in 2010. The mentally troubled man shot her to death, and he had known her as she was a home health nurse for Givens’ mom. In his case a traumatic brain injury from falling down a flight of steps as a youngster, and as a result, he, too, needed assistance and help functioning in daily life.

When he died, the medical examiner had declared blunt force trauma to the torso was the cause of death; however, the manner has remained undetermined.

Deaths like these and the coverups that come in their wake have been prevalent when we have liberals in office. Both under the Obama and Biden administrations, prison injuries and incidents have been on the rise, despite their persistent push to get more people out of jail. They instead want to staff these prisons with worse guards who are all vastly understaffed and underpaid.

Deaths like Givens’ are not only preventable, but the treatment he and others underwent while awaiting the sweet kiss of death is atrocious. This isn’t what America is about, and it isn’t how people are to be treated. Despite their criminal convictions, they have a right to humane treatment. Those like Givens are especially to be taken care of as they lack to capability to do it for themselves. For those unable to provide that care, there are other lines of work.

The lack of records being released is an abomination and a rather solid indication that they know something is wrong. Officials don’t back down from being asked for records when it clears their name or when it helps their case. Clearly, they are trying to hide something, and it’s not a good look.