Brenda Free said she has two sons who are currently serving time in the Cummins Unit but is worried about their current living conditions.

A mother said she hopes that Cummins Unit prisoners are being treated fairly and the guards are not taking things out on them.
Brenda Free said she has two sons who are currently serving time in the Cummins Unit but is worried about their current living conditions.
Free said she spoke with her son Jonah on Monday who described the conditions as unsanitary and added they were not being fed as they should.
The COVID-19 outbreak in Cummins Unit has caught the attention of civil rights leaders and protesters.
An inmate from the Cummins Unit was pronounced dead on Friday at Jefferson Regional Medical Center according to Jefferson County coroner Chad Kelley.
The numbers of positive COVID-19 cases were updated on the Arkansas Department of Corrections website. As of May, 12, 150 inmates had not recovered from COVID-19.
Inmates who have recovered but are still under observation is 906.
There are 46 positive COVID-19 facility security staff and five non-security staff.
A total of five inmates have died.
In court documents filed on May 5 in the United States District Court Eastern District of Arkansas Central Division against Wendy Kelly, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Corrections, alleges that unattended prisoners in Cummins Unit have been so gripped by illness that they defecate on themselves.
Some sick prisoners lay in bed for days soaked in their own sweat, coughing, gasping, and sometimes convulsing; once they are finally carried away, those beds, soaked in the fluids of the unattended ill, are neither cleaned nor disinfected.
The court docs go on to say that defendants have not implemented the heightened hygienic, cleaning, and disinfecting practices called for by the Center for Disease Control Interim Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Correctional Facilities. They have also failed to adequately implement measures to reduce crowding, minimize interpersonal contact, and encourage social distancing.
Moreover, Defendants have still not adequately addressed the presence of incarcerated people and staff members who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for COVID-19. All of these deficiencies have led to violations of Plaintiffs’ federal rights—violations that have been most recently exemplified by the massive viral outbreak of several hundred people incarcerated in Cummins Unit.
Arkansas Department of Corrections is allowing employees who are confirmed to have the disease to return to work as long as they are asymptomatic and wear a face mask.
According to a previous statement by Arkansas Division of Correction Director Dexter Payne, the staff are only allowed to work with inmates who have also tested positive for the virus.
Free said while her two sons tested negative for the virus awhile back, her son Jonah was displaying symptoms just last week.
“My son Jonah became real sick last week. He finally got to go outside in forever and the first thing he did was pick up a ball,” said Free. “I said, Honey you shouldn’t of done that.”
Free said her son laid around with fever and chills.
“I prayed and I told him, Honey I am praying that you don’t have such a thing,” said free. “I prayed no weapon formed against him shall prosper.”
Free said its running rampart in the Cummins Unit and every family of an inmate there has not only complained about the living conditions, but of the inmates being starved.
Court documents also allege that inmates are not being fed properly.
Last week photos on Facebook began circulating of the prisoner’s food tray which consisted of two slices of bread, one piece of lunch meat and a sliced piece of fruit, which supposedly led to a riot inside the prison.
“My son said every time he received a piece of bread, it would be wet,” said Free. “He said they are being fed at three in the morning with a long stretch in between their next meal.”
Court documents filed against Kelley state one day they didn’t have lunch until 9:30 p.m., when speaking about the inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Sick people need to eat and drink. But when I called to ask about them not getting enough to eat, I was told that they were understaffed which is why they weren’t able to feed them correctly, read the court documents.
The documents state the fear, hunger, and illness of those locked down in Cummins has created a powder keg environment.
While Free’s other son is in restricted housing, she is praying her son Jonah is released to come home soon. Free said Jonah made parole but has a restriction that he must complete the Substance Abuse Treatment Program (SAPT).
According to Free, this 6-month program is not even being offered due to COVID-19 and her son should be released based on that exception.
“It’s really been hard on them and hard on me. Especially when my son got sick,” said Free. “I had to really take this to God. It’s just so heartbreaking. They don’t feed them right or treat them right.”