Dajah Bishop opens the Campbell County Jail Tracker every day and searches for her fiance: Pierre Rayshawn Taylor, 38 years old, held by the county on drug charges since April 12, 2019, and hospitalized with COVID-19 on Jan. 11.
She figures he must still be alive as long as his name shows up on the list of inmates. Beyond that, she said Tuesday, she’s flying blind — neither she nor Taylor’s attorney have been able to obtain any current information about his condition or where he is being treated.
“The week before he was admitted to the hospital, we were in regular contact,” she said. “He had a slight cough and was saying he had mucus, and ‘I’m just trying to get rid of it.’”
Then, nothing. The jail didn’t tell her Taylor had been hospitalized. She learned about it via a call from another inmate.
Attempts to get in touch with the jail have produced little usable information, said attorney Ben Dusing, who represents Taylor.
He knows that Taylor was hospitalized. He said he’s also been told in various phone calls that Taylor was placed in an induced coma, put on a ventilator and taken off again. No one can tell him how Taylor is doing now.
“No one knows where he is,” he said. “It depends on who you call and who you talk to, but the general answer tends to be, ‘We can’t tell you, maybe these other folks can.’ You kind of get passed around, which is not what you want to happen when you’ve got people on their death bed.”
Some of the delays and confusion would be normal in a pre-COVID-19 world, Dusing added. It’s likely, in his opinion, that the novel coronavirus has forced prisons and jails to rapidly develop or modify policies governing the release of inmates’ personal health information — or to lean on their old ones, which might not be suited for a pandemic.
“They are going by the old playbook, and in that regard, you can’t really fault them because they are going by the playbook,” he said of the jail workers to whom he’s spoken. “I don’t know that they are the problem as so much that the playbook is the problem.”
Jim Daley, the Campbell County jailer, told WCPO the jail’s traditional procedure is to involve family when an inmate is ill or near death. He declined to comment on Taylor’s location or condition but confirmed several of his inmates have contracted COVID-19 since December.
So have members of his staff, some of whom were in critical condition on Tuesday night.
Bishop, Taylor’s fiancee, isn’t sure what to do next except keep checking for his name on Jail Tracker.
“It’s not fair,” she said. “We understand how the law works, but at the same time…he is still a human. He has patient rights being in a hospital. They are not being fair with that.”
Taylor’s 16-year-old daughter, J’ierrie Taylor, wants to hear her father’s voice.
“I am overwhelmed,” she said. “I am shocked. My heart is broken. I've never been in this position before, to even not hear anything about a parent. Nobody is speaking, no contact, no complete information. We are stuck with thoughts, and, you know, you are going to think the worst without any correct information.”