A federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia is depriving inmates of the most basic necessity of life, water. An inmate at FCI Petersburg Low was deprived of drinking water for over 15 days. Inmate Brandon Lewis wrote a message to Associate Warden Bolster after four days of no water. Associate Warden Bolster is the official who made the decision not to provide inmates with water.

"We are seriously suffering," says Lewis. "Many of us are very, very dehydrated... I am begging you to please provide me with drinking water." Lewis went on to explain to the prison's Associate Warden that he is severely dehydrated, light headed, dizzy, has throbbing headaches, is suffering from nausea, vomiting, feeling weak and is not sure how much longer he can go without water.

An investigation revealed that the prison previously provided bottled water with each meal - that is until the Associate Warden brought that to an end on October 7, 2021. Although inmate Lewis is being held in a building that has running tap water, multiple correctional officers in that building gave inmates a direct order not to drink the tap water. They even posted a sign that instructed inmates not to drink the tap water. When inmates asked why, some of the officers said the water is not safe to drink. Inmates in federal prison can face disciplinary action for disobeying a direct order from a correctional officer. Therefore, Lewis was not to drink the tap water.

Inmate Lewis continued to reach out to Associate Warden Bolster, as well as Associate Warden McQueen and Acting Complex Warden Wilson. "I'm writing you again to ask you to please provide us with bottled water," says Lewis after six days of no water. "I don't understand why you all are doing this to us! We have NO drinking water!" Lewis continued to plead saying, "Why am I having to go through this? All I want is water to drink!"

Inmate Lewis continued having medical issues and reached out to the prison's medical unit for help. Lewis never received any help from medical. Other inmates at the prison also reached out to prison officials begging and pleading for water while complaining of various medical issues due to lack of hydration.

Inmate Lewis' Food Poisoned with Asbestos

Not only was inmate Lewis being deprived of water, his food was being contaminated with a dangerous poisonous substance called asbestos. When explaining to correctional officer C. Harder about his sufferings, officer Harner stated, "If you are upset about not getting water, you should see where your food is being prepared."

Harner went on to explain that he personally witnessed dried asbestos falling into inmates' food. He also witnessed rain water dropping from the ceiling into inmates' food, as well as rats and roaches crawling in the food prepared for inmates to eat. It is no wonder that inmate Lewis was suffering from so many medical issues.

Prison Violates Inmate Lewis' Constitutional Rights

FCI Petersburg Low is guilty of three violations of inmate Lewis' constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment, pursuant to Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code:

1. Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. The Eight Amendment requires prison officials to provide medical treatment if a prisoner requires it. FCI Petersburg Low not only failed to provide inmate Lewis with medical care - they completely ignored his pleadings.

2. Deliberate indifference in providing the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities. Water is obviously a life necessity.

3. Deliberate indifference to inmate Lewis' health and safety. Prison officials knew the dangerous poisonous asbestos was falling into Lewis' food and yet did nothing about it.

Water in Exchange for More Prison Time?

Inmate Lewis is entitled to 365 days of extra good time, which would reduce his 63-month sentence, for helping to save a correctional officer's life back in August, 2021. He helped revive an officer who was found unconscious on the ground. Officer Winfield witnessed Lewis' act of heroism and recommended Lewis for an award of extra good time.

Inmate Lewis was so desperate for water, he was willing to forfeit his reward of 365 days of extra good time in exchange for being provided with bottled water. He said to officer Winfield, "Email Associate Warden Bolster and tell him I am willing to forfeit my reward of extra good time and serve a longer sentence in exchange for water."

Inmate Lewis never received any water.

This is beyond cruel. Inmates who had a few extra bottles of water started sharing with other inmates like Lewis whom they noticed were suffering because they were completely out of water.

Inmate Lewis Requests Home Confinement

Inmate Lewis requested home confinement as relief for the violation of his constitutional rights. Home confinement would protect Lewis from the BOP causing him any further harm.

His request was denied.

SHARE