AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Franchesca 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.
WFXR’s sister station WRIC first spoke to the Hyltons back in January. At the time, Robert Hylton was at Lawrenceville Correctional Center, the only private prison in Virginia.
WRIC 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.
Franchesca 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 1,600 feet up and we have no AC,” he said.
Medical records regarding his heart condition that were shared with WFXR’s sister station show he has a thickening in his aortic valve.
Franchesca Hylton said, “His aortic valve is only pumping at 20%.”
Robert Hylton also told WRIC, “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.
Franchesca 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, Franchesca 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, the Department of Corrections 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.
WFXR’s sister station 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, WFXR’s sister station 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.
For breaking news delivered to you, subscribe to WFXR’s breaking news email list
Get breaking news, weather, and sports delivered to your smartphone with the WFXR News app available on Apple and Android.