AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Francesca Hylton’s husband Robert only has two more years left on his sentence and she wants him to come home alive. She claims her husband is being denied medical care at a Virginia state prison.
8News first spoke to the Hyltons back in January. At the time, Robert Hylton was at Lawrenceville Correctional Center, the only private prison in Virginia.
8News exposed an ongoing lack of medical staff and adequate care at the facility. Robert Hylton was moved but his family is still shaking their heads at the decision to move him to Augusta Correctional Center. The prison is operated by the Virginia Department of Corrections, but it has no air-conditioning and Robert Hylton has a serious heart condition.
We spoke to Robert Hylton from the prison.
“I think that Lawrenceville did this in retaliation, to send me all the way up here seven or eight hours away from my family and into a place that doesn’t have AC,” Robert said.
Francesca Hylton is scared and worried for her husband.
“He’s like, ‘I want to come home in one piece. I don’t want to come home in a body bag,” she said.
Robert Hylton said he hasn’t been feeling well recently.
“I am having breathing issues,” he said. “I feel like I am going to pass out a lot of times when the heat gets real bad.”
He said he’s had dizzy spells at the prison where inmates and staff say temperatures can top 100 degrees in this summer heat. “It’s like being in an oven. We’re about 1600 feet up and we have no AC,” Robert Hylton said.
Medical records regarding his heart condition that were shared with 8News show he has a thickening in his aortic valve.
Francesca Hylton said, “His aortic valve is only pumping at 20%.”
Robert Hylton also told us, “I have a leaky valve.”
He is doing time for multiple unarmed robberies he says he committed when he was hooked on drugs. He claims the situation at Augusta has compounded his heart condition.
“One thing, I am all the way on the top floors,” Robert said. “So, I have to walk up the stairs the whole time.”
He asked to see the doctor but says he’s been denied care.
“Dr. Smith refused to see me, period,” Robert Hylton said.
Franchesca says he’s supposed to see a cardiologist every year or if his condition changes.
“He hasn’t seen his cardiologist since October of last year,” she said.
Francesca has called and shared emails sent to multiple Virginia Department of Corrections administrators and lawmakers begging for help.
“I sent emails to Brian Moran, I sent emails to David Robinson then I sent emails to Warden White,” she said.
Yet, Francesca says nothing has come of it.
“My husband is not the only one in this predicament, you know,” she said. “I have other ladies that have loved ones that are incarcerated that are dealing with this.”
Dozens of family members have posted on social media or reached out to 8News alleging extreme heat and a lack of medical care at other prisons as well like Nottoway Correctional Center and Buckingham Correctional Center.
Earlier this year, DOC announced preps for the summer including plans to retrofit some of the prisons with AC as well as adding fans and ice machines.
“It’s always a band-aid on something,” Robert said.
8News was told the inmates are limited to one small fan, but they say it’s just not enough when it’s 90 or more degrees outside.
WRIC reached out to multiple people at the Department of Corrections and our requests for an interview, calls and emails were all ignored.
However, 8News did speak to a local lawyer who takes on prisoner rights cases. He said problems with inmate medical care have hit epidemic proportions and inmates who believe they are not getting proper care should file medical grievances and appeals if they are not addressed.
The attorney also advises inmates to keep copies of it all and for families to document calls and details from their loved ones.