Dozens of motor vehicles circled the Westville Correctional Facility on Tuesday in a protest over the treatment of inmates during a coronavirus outbreak that has reached inside the prison's walls.
“I’m here trying to get justice for all the inmates up here,” Misty Weikel said from her car after driving from her home in Lafayette. A sign taped to her car read “Praying for inmates and guards.”
Other vehicles circling the prison and honking horns also carried signs. Shouting and clapping could be heard from inside the prison during the protest and individuals were visible at several windows, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
The Westville facility in LaPorte County has far outpaced other Indiana prisons in the number of coronavirus cases. The Indiana Department of Correction reported Tuesday 143 positive tests among inmates and 36 among correctional officers.
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DOC spokesman Dave Bursten placed the number of vehicles taking part in the protest at more than 70.
Bursten challenged claims of improper handling of inmates, particularly during the outbreak of COVID-19 among the detainees and correctional officers.
All but about 50 of the prison’s 3,100 inmates are given the privilege of electronic tablets, and all hourly and other restrictions have been lifted to allow greater access to their loved ones during the outbreak, he said.
The IDOC has also made 50,000 masks and has provided one to each inmate.
The prison continues to test inmates exhibiting coronavirus-type symptoms and is segregate ailing inmates, Bursten said.