Family looking for answers in loved one’s death: ‘Just because you are in jail doesn’t mean you are inhuman’

LAWRENCEVILLE, Va. — A family is begging for answers after their loved one died in Lawrenceville Correctional Center in July and they have not received any explanation from the prison facility.

The family says they were notified that their family member, Richard Robinson, died in prison on July 12.

Robinson’s sister, Tamee Haskins, said her brother had served 16 years out of a 28-year sentence and was eligible for parole, so he could soon come home.

Haskins shared how her brother Richard had just texted her hours before she got the call that he died. The text read that he needed a food bag and that he loved her and needed to talk to her.

“My brother was like my rib. Now I’m broken down. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s like it’s not real,” she cried.

Haskins shared how she is struggling nearly six weeks later without receiving answers about how her brother officially died. She questions if they tried to save him, where he was, and what happened.

Haskins says police keep telling her they are not finished with the investigation into her brother’s death.

The Geo Group owns the prison which is contracted through the state. It is the only privately run state prison in Virginia.

One year ago, CBS6 shared the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office’s concerns with the prison facility.

They said five inmates died in 2021 and 12 in 2022. The prison also had the highest number of suspected and confirmed overdoses in 2022 in the state prison system in 2022.

When CBS6 reached out to the Geo Group regarding Robinson’s death, they initially referred us to the Virginia Department of Corrections. The VDOC referred us back to the Geo Group.

The Geo Group then confirmed Robinson died but wouldn’t tell us or the family the manner of his death.

“Was I right to even think he was alright in there?” Haskins questioned.

CBS 6 obtained calls for service logs from the Sheriff’s Office and learned the department received seven calls regarding overdoses since January.

One of these calls was made on July 12 – the day the prison confirmed Robinson died.

“I’m going to do whatever I can do. Just because you are in jail doesn’t mean you are inhuman. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a family on the outside that love and care for you,” said Haskins.

Last September, the Geo Group told CBS 6 they placed the facility on restricted movement status to limit the movement of contraband by limiting the movement of inmates.

“The safety and security of the community, staff, and inmates residing at the Center is and always has been our number one priority. The introduction of contraband is an ongoing challenge that correctional facilities across the country are currently facing,” a GEO Group Spokesperson wrote. “Tocurtail drugs and other contraband from being introduced into the facility, we have recently invested in new technology, increased staff and training, and enhanced security measures, which includes increased drug testing and comprehensive facility-wide searches. We have also invested significant resources to deploy a state-of-the-art drone detection system and sophisticated contraband detection scanners. We will continue working with the Virginia DOC to confront the challenges related to the introduction of contraband.”

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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