Families of Butner inmates concerned as COVID-19 death toll rises at federal prison

Local News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Two inmates have died at Butner Federal Prison in the last week, and now families of inmates are concerned for the safety of their loved ones.

According to the Bureau of Prison’s website, 157 inmates and 12 staff members at Butner Federal Prison currently have COVID-19.

Several families reached out to CBS 17 concerned about their loved ones safety at the prison facility.

Shirl Harris, from Franklin, Virginia, said her son, Larry Donnell Parrish III, is currently an inmate at the federal prison in Butner and he has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“He called me on Wednesday saying that he could barely walk,” Harris said. “He said he never felt so bad and he just felt like he wanted to come home and die.”

Harris said it is has been one week since she heard from him, so she tried to get an update from prison officials.

“I asked if there was anything they could tell me about my son, and they said they couldn’t tell me anything,” Harris said. “I asked, ‘well is he dead or alive?’ and they told me ‘I don’t know, just call back on Tuesday.’ Someone should be able to tell me something.”

Harris said her son also told her there are not enough soap or face coverings for the inmates to protect themselves.

“It’s very trifling to know that several inmates, plus my child, have caught COVID-19 and they need help and they’re not getting the proper help that they need,” Harris said.

CBS 17 reached out to officials with the Bureau of Prisons about these families concerns, but we have not yet heard back.

As the death toll rises at Butner Federal Prison, Harris is just praying her son is doing ok and that she hears something soon.

“Just because they’ve done criminal activities or whatever their charges may be, they don’t have to treat these inmates as if they’re dirt,” Harris said. “I just want them to call me and let me know how my child is doing.”

The BOP’s data showed 230 inmates and 35 staff members have recovered from the virus since the pandemic started.

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