Last Update: November 19, 2021

A federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia is depriving inmates of the most basic necessity of life, water. Inmates at FCI Petersburg Low have been deprived of drinking water for over 10 days now. Inmate Brandon Lewis wrote a message to the prison's Assistant Warden after four days of no water. The Assistant Warden 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 Assistant Warden that he was light headed, dizzy, has throbbing headaches, is feeling weak, and is not sure how much longer he can go without water.

The prison is in violation of each inmates' constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which requires prisons to provide inmates with the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities. That includes water. The prison is also guilty of cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

An investigation revealed that the prison previously provided bottled water with each meal - that is until the Assistant Warden brought that to an end on October 7, 2021. Although inmate Lewis is being held in a building that has running tap water, correctional officers in that building have given inmates a direct order not to drink the tap water. They even posted a sign 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.

Inmate Lewis continued to reach out to the Assistant Warden, as well as the head Warden. "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 began having medical issues and reached out to the prison's medical unit for help. Lewis never received any help from medical, which is also a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits deliberate indifference to an inmates' serious medical needs. Other inmates at the prison also reached out to prison officials begging and pleading for water while complaining of medical issues due to lack of hydration.

Water in Exchange for More Prison Time?

Inmate Lewis is entitled to a reduction of his 5 1/2 sentence for helping to save a correctional officer's life back in August. He helped revive an officer who was found unconscious on the ground. Lewis is willing to forfeit his reward of a sentence reduction in exchange for water. He said to an officer, "Tell the Assistant Warden I am willing to forfeit my reward and serve a longer sentence in exchange for water."

As of today, nothing has been done for Inmate Lewis and other inmates. They are still being deprived of the most basic necessity of life, water. This is beyond cruel. Inmates who have a few extra bottles of water have started sharing with other inmates like Lewis who is completely out of water. Lewis is planning to ask the prison for home confinement as relief for his suffering.

Update: The Assistant Warden has suddenly retired after the publishing of this story, though nothing has yet to be been done for Inmate Lewis.

Please contact the Regional Director over this prison and demand something be done. The Regional Director over this federal prison is James Petrucci. He can be reached at (301) 317-3100, or by email at  MXRO-ExecAssistant@bop.gov

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