Former inmate in pod affected by COVID-19 shares experience

RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – While some Southern Regional Jail inmates complain of overcrowding, a former inmate in the medical pod shares a different experience.

“In medical, there’s only six cells, so you get a little more attention than [the general population] does,” said Summer Hopper, who was an inmate for 27 days until Wednesday. “We were the ones that got the COVID, so we were first-hand getting attention. I always had everything I needed. I had toilet paper, I had hygiene products, but we couldn’t get to the water to wash. We had to wash in the sinks.”

Although her experience wasn’t as negative, Summer still had her concerns.

“Nobody in medical is able to make calls, send out mail. The showers are very limited, like two in ten days.”

The lack of hygiene is especially concerning, since Summer says she was in the same pod as an inmate who tested positive for the virus.

“He actually gave me a Snickers and some coffee. He threw it in my cell when he was mopping the floor. We had to be tested and wait for it to come back negative to be released.”

Summer claims things were made worse by overworked staff members that sometimes take things out on inmates.

“They’re very stressed. They’re worked to death. You can see the tired on their face. They’re going in stressed and sometimes it gets taken out on inmates. Everybody needs some kind of sense of peace.”

Summer understands that jail isn’t meant to be a comfortable place, but inmates are still humans with needs.

“When you go to jail, you have to face that it’s not going to be comfortable, but it’s very uncomfortable right now for the inmates. They’re not getting any information in or out. They don’t know what’s going on.”

We reached out to officials for comment, but were unable to get a response before deadline.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.