State lawmaker says Cameron prison won’t let him inside to talk to inmates about conditions

CAMERON, Mo. -- A state representative says the way inmates are being treated at a Cameron prison isn't right, and he says no one from the Missouri Department of Corrections is allowing him to meet with them.

On May 12, more than 200 inmates at the Crossroads Correctional Center staged a protest. They weren't pleased with the short-staffing issue, which lead to things like shorter recreation  times. Most of the inmates surrendered, but some damaged property to several areas, including the kitchen.

The prison went on a lock down, and now it's on a modified lock down. The Missouri Department of Corrections website lists all the privileges that inmates currently have.

"According to the letters I'm getting, none of the activities have been reinstated," said State Rep. Brandon Ellington from Missouri's 22nd district.

Ellington said he met with inmates and administrators on July 19 because of letters he received about the conditions at the prison after the protest.

He tried to go again Thursday and recorded a Facebook live video of prison staff telling him he couldn't come inside. According to Ellington, he had a meeting, but it was canceled.

"I can't tell you what needs to change because we're not getting accurate information from the department," Ellington said.

In an email, Karen Pojmann with the corrections department told FOX4 in part, "The department has not told Representative Ellington that he won`t be able to meet with offenders. Currently the facility is in modified lockdown status, which means that tighter-than-usual restrictions are placed on the movements of offenders, staff and visitors."

Ellington said inmates complained to him about not getting visitation and not getting hot meals. He said he needs more transparency from the MDOC.

According to Pojmann, visitation was reinstated on Aug. 9. Prisoners are allowed visitors on the weekends, but not as many visitors as before the protest.

Pojmann said since then, 141 offenders have received visitors at Crossroads Correctional Center. The prison is holding three visiting shifts per day, four days per week.

The prison hopes to get hot meals back soon. A return to normal depends on how quickly they can staff the prison, and how soon they can get special doors for the maximum security prison that were damaged during the protest.

"We anticipate receiving and installing the final components of the security doors in the next few days and hope to begin serving one hot meal per day shortly after Labor Day if the delivery occurs on schedule and if installation is successfully completed in the anticipated time frame," Pojmann said.