TOLEDO, Ohio — With several state prisons experiencing coronavirus outbreaks, the Ohio Prisoners Justice League was created in May to advocate for inmates.
In April, Toledo Correctional Institute reported its first two cases of COVID-19. Since then, Chazidy Bowman has been taking complaints from concerned family members - not just from Toledo Corrections, but from prisons across Ohio.
Bowman says she started the organization not to attack the justice system, but to protect the rights of those incarcerated.
"Let me make this clear: We're not Ohio Department of Corrections. We don't hate them and we're not trying to be malice towards anybody. We're just asking that our loved ones get the proper care that the CARES Act gave this state billions of dollars for to make sure that they get that," said Bowman.
For Bowman, the fight against COVID-19 in prisons is a personal one. Her husband is serving time at Toledo Corrections and will be released in 2022.
He also has asthma, and recently showed COVID-19 symptoms. Bowman says her husband had a fever of 103.7 eight days ago and showed other symptoms of the virus.
She had to advocate daily to get her husband tested. He is waiting for those test results right now.
Toledo Corrections says there are currently no inmates with COVID-19 at the prison. In an e-mail to WTOL, officials at the prison say they have done a better job educating inmates and staff on coronavirus since April.
The prison has an abundance of soap, and social distancing measures are in place. Inmates with symptoms are isolated from the general population.
Family members are also not allowed to visit loved ones serving time at the prison. Several thousand people incarcerated in Ohio prisons have recovered from the coronavirus.