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  • Rich Klein

2 Inmates Who Tested Positive For Covid-19 Talk About Crisis Inside SC Jail

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases inside the 110-year-old Sullivan County Jail has nearly doubled in one week, conditions among those infected are deteriorating, according to two inmates who spoke exclusively with The SullivanTimes by phone on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The inmates are Christopher Peachey, 32, and James Konidis, 38, a pair of non-violent offenders who both tested positive and are among 18 other inmates right now in G Block. Last Thursday, Sheriff Michael Schiff announced that 17 of 20 inmates on G block that houses trustees tested positive for coronavirus. Over the weekend, another 15 cases were confirmed in the facility. In April, four correction officers were the first infections recorded inside the jail followed by one inmate in G block.

“They are quarantining the whole dorm as one,” said Peachey, who has been in the jail since December 2019 after violating a condition of his parole. He said that he has been suffering at various times from fatigue, headaches, nauseousness and previously had lost (but regained) his sense of taste and smell.

“A lot of us are suffering and I don't think it's right," he said.

A move of all inmates from the current 78-bed jail to the $101 million, 300-bed facility on Old Route 17 is scheduled to happen the weekend of May 29-31, according to a source who did not want to be identified. The new jail has been extremely costly to taxpayers stemming from a problem with the water hookup to the Village of Monticello, a contractor mistake that caused limited damage during construction, and multiple change orders by Pike Company, the primary building contractor. In addition, Sheriff Mike Schiff has maintained that his officers continue to be trained for the transition, something he began talking about in October 2019 when tours of the completed jail were being given. Last week, Schiff blamed the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020 for the lengthy delay in moving inmates and staff to the new facility.

Both Peachey and Konidis, in separate interviews, told The SullivanTimes the following:

-that they have only received a generic piece of paper saying they all tested positive but no official written test results with their names on it.

- that they share two toilets for 18 people and that there is not enough bleach available to keep them sanitized

- that, although many have had and some still have Covid-19 symptoms, they are not getting any treatment

- that they are sleeping only about two feet apart from each other

- that there are another 15 or 16 positive cases of coronavirus among inmates in the E Block.

“This morning I woke up with a rash all over my body and I don’t know what it’s from..they are only giving us Tylenol and taking our temperature once per day, “ Konidis said. “If we put in a sick call, they are not taking any sick calls right now unless it’s coronavirus -related or a life and death situation. “

“Prisoners are not animals and we would not even treat animals this way,” said attorney Benjamin Greenwald, who is representing Konidis, among a few other inmates. Citing one example, Konidis noted that one inmate, Anthony Shackelford, 50, was recently spitting up blood but that he has been refused medical attention.

Konidis, who until recently worked in the jail’s kitchen serving coffee and juice, said that although he and other inmates were wearing masks in April, many correctional officers were not wearing them until mandated more recently. “They were completely negligent with their protocols,” Konidis said, adding that “we (inmates) were wearing masks until we all found out we were infected. “

“I’ve been here for so long and I should have been able to get back to my family in Binghamton,” Konidis, the father of two, said. “Now, I’m obviously worried about complications for the rest of my life. “ Konidis, who is from the Binghamton area, had violated his parole from a 2017 conviction on identity theft charges.

Peachey, who had served time in state prison for a 2013 Fallsburg burglary, said: “We're all suffering. I want to hug my daughter again. I believe that they (the County and prison officials) didn't hold up their end to keep us safe.”

Undersheriff Eric Chaboty and Dan Hust, director of communications for the County, did not reply to a request for comment at press time.

PHOTO: Sheriff Michael Schiff


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